NEW DELHI — The Indian Supreme Court on Sept. 9 stayed all the proceedings before the Delhi High Court relating to the Amazon-Future-Reliance case.

A Bench headed by Chief Justice of India NV Ramana asked all statutory authorities, including the National Company Law Tribunal (NCLT), Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI), and Competition Commission of India (CCI), not to pass any final order relating to the case for four weeks.

The bench will hear the case after four weeks.

The apex court was hearing an appeal of the Future Retail Ltd (FRL) against the Delhi High Court order relating to the implementation of its earlier direction restraining Future Retail Ltd from going ahead with its merger deal with Reliance Retail.

The bench said that it was passing the order taking into consideration the fact that the challenge to Emergency Award (EA) is pending before Singapore International Arbitration Centre.

The top court passed the order after hearing arguments from senior advocates Harish Salve and Mukul Rohatgi for Future group and senior advocate Gopal Subramanium for Amazon.

The lawyers of the Future group said that the High Court would go ahead with the enforcement of Singapore’s Emergency Arbitrator (EA) award in case stay is not granted in its favor by the apex court.

The Delhi High Court on Aug. 17, while hearing the plea of US-based e-commerce giant Amazon, seeking enforcement of the award by Emergency Arbitrator restraining Future Retail Ltd. from going ahead with the deal, had said that it would implement the earlier March 18 order of the single-judge bench that restrained Future Retail Ltd. from going ahead with the merger.

The High Court had said that in the absence of any stay from the top court, it has no option but to enforce the order passed by its single judge. The Future Retail Ltd then moved the apex court against the Aug. 17 order.

The Delhi High Court, on March 18, had ordered attachment of the assets of Future Coupons Private Limited (FCPL), Future Retail Ltd, Kishore Biyani, and 10 other promoters.

It had also asked Future Retail Ltd. and its associates to file an affidavit detailing their assets within one month and show cause as to why they not be detained under civil prison for three months for violating the Singapore Emergency Arbitrator’s order.

The top court on Aug. 6 had ruled in favor of Amazon and held that the Emergency Arbitrator award that restrained Future Retail Ltd. from going ahead with its merger deal with Reliance Retail is enforceable in Indian law under Arbitration and Conciliation Act, 1996.

A Bench headed by Justice Rohinton F. Nariman had upheld the Single-judge Bench order of the Delhi High Court.

Amazon and Future Retail Ltd are embroiled in a legal fight over Future Retail Ltd’s INR 24,713 crore ($3.36 billion) merger deal with Reliance Retail.

Amazon has a 49 percent stake in Future Coupons Private Limited, which in turn owns a 9.82 percent stake in Future Retail Ltd. Amazon’s contention is that it has invested INR 1,431 crore ($194.8 million) in Future Coupons Private Limited on the clear understanding that Future Retail Ltd would be the sole vehicle for its retail business and its retail assets would not be alienated without consent and never to a Restricted Person.

Future Retail Ltd., on the other hand, has objected to the enforcement of the Emergency Arbitrator award, saying that it is not an order under Section 17(1) of the Arbitration and Conciliation Act and hence not enforceable in India. 

However, later the top court said the Emergency Arbitrator award is enforceable in India.

Future Retail Ltd has contended that the INR 24,731 crore ($3.36 billion) deal was very important to save its 25,000 employees. It had said that as per the deal, Reliance would not only take over Future Retail Ltd’s shops but also all its liabilities. 

(With inputs from ANI)

Edited by Vaibhav Pawar and Praveen Pramod Tewari

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