SC issues notice on Amazon plea challenging Delhi HC stay on arbitration with Future Group

The Supreme Court on Wednesday issued notice on an appeal by Amazon challenging a division bench order of the Delhi High Court, which stayed the ongoing arbitration proceedings with the Future Group, in connection with the 2019 deal between the firms.

A bench headed by Chief Justice N.V. Ramana issued the notice to Future Group and scheduled the matter for hearing on February 23.

On January 5, the Delhi High Court stayed further arbitration proceedings between the parties before the Singapore tribunal till February 1.

A bench headed by Chief Justice D.N. Patel and comprising Justice Jyoti Singh issued notice on the two appeals filed by Future Retail Ltd. and Future Coupons Pvt. Ltd. The notice has been made returnable on February 1, 2022. The high court also stayed the single judge order, which dismissed the Future Group’s plea against the two orders passed by the tribunal. The Future Group sought termination of the arbitration proceedings instituted by Amazon.

Citing the Competition Commission of India (CCI) order, the high court noted that there is a prima facie case made out in the favour of appellants. The high court further added that it will stay further proceedings of the tribunal till the next date of hearing.

Senior Advocate Mukul Rohatgi, representing the Future Coupons Pvt. Ltd, cited the CCI order, which kept in abeyance the approval granted for Amazon’s deal with Future Group, and added since approval is gone, the agreement automatically loses its value. He argued that the single judge of the high court failed to appreciate the application and also the fact that agreement will have no effect after the CCI’s order.

Senior advocate Gopal Subramanium, appearing for Amazon, had argued that it was not fair to say that tribunal was not taking cognizance of application to terminate the arbitration proceedings.

In December last year, the Competition Commission of India (CCI) had imposed a penalty of Rs 202 crore on Amazon and suspended its approval for the e-tailer’s deal with Future Coupons, a promoter firm of the group’s public listed company Future Retail Ltd, seeking more information. The Singapore tribunal had held that it could not accommodate its termination application ahead of the scheduled hearings on the main case.

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