Amazon Vs Future Retail: Not Granted Adequate Hearing By High Court, Future Group Tells Supreme Court
The order by a single-judge bench of the Delhi High Court on Amazon Inc.’s petition went beyond the directions of the emergency arbitrator, Future Group has argued in the Supreme Court.
The Kishore Biyani-controlled group has filed a special leave petition in the Supreme Court after the top court upheld the validity of the international emergency arbitrator's order and set aside a stay by a Delhi High Court division bench on the single-judge order.
In March, Justice JR Midha had ruled that the order of Singapore-based emergency arbitrator, putting the sale of Future Group's assets to Reliance Retail Ltd. on hold, was valid and enforceable. The court also ordered punitive measures against Future Group entities and the promoters on grounds that they willfully violated the order of the emergency arbitrator.
Now Future Coupons Pvt. and the Biyanis have challenged Justice Midha's order in the Supreme Court. BloombergQuint has reviewed a copy of the special leave petition.
Not Granted Effective Opportunity To Respond: Future Group
The single-judge bench ruled without granting Future Group adequate opportunity to respond on whether there was any compliance or violation of the emergency arbitrator’s order, the group argued.
The single-judge bench commenced final hearing of the enforcement petition on the first day itself, it said. The group made repeated requests for an opportunity to file a reply affidavit and that the case be taken up after that, but the bench made a final determination at the ad-interim stage, Future Group said.
Future Group said it was denied the full, complete and real opportunity of representation and hearing.
The impugned order is also illegal and bad in law in as much as the learned single Judge foreclosed the issues pending before the arbitral tribunal and thereby, in an execution petition, interfered with the arbitration proceedings.Appeal in the Supreme Court by Future Coupons Private Ltd
Court Granted Reliefs Not Sought By Amazon: Future Group
The single-judge bench of the high court asked for attachment of the assets of two Future Group entities and the promoters. The court had also imposed a cost of Rs 20 lakh and issued a notice to the promoters, asking them to be personally present at the next date of hearing.
Future Group and the Biyanis have argued that the high court made an error in its judgment as it passed directions which went beyond the October 2020 order of the emergency arbitrator.
The high court's direction expands the scope of the emergency arbitrator‘s order and goes even beyond what Amazon had sought in its petition, Future Group said.
The petitioners submit that without even enquiring into the fact as to whether any breach whatsoever had been committed by the petitioners, omnibus and blanket observations have been made by the Ld single judge.Future Group Appeal in the Supreme Court
The group also questioned the high court’s interpretation of the agreement between Future Coupons and Amazon. The pact was signed when Amazon invested Rs 1,431 crore in Future Coupons.
Future Group contested the view of the high court that Amazon had invested this money only on the basis that Future Ltd. Retail would not transfer its retail assets without Amazon’s consent and never to a restricted entity.
Such a finding is merely oversimplifying and mechanically adopting the submission of Amazon without a proper analysis of the relevant documents…Appeal in the Supreme Court
Legal Proceedings So Far....
On a plea by Amazon.com NV Investment Holdings LLC, the Singapore emergency arbitrator in October 2020 put on hold the Rs 27,513-crore transaction between Future Retail and Reliance Retail.
Amazon then moved the Delhi High Court seeking to enforce the order, and Justice Midha ruled in its favour.
Future Group, however, got a stay from the division bench of the high court. But the top court last month held that the order of the single judge could not have been appealed to the division bench. The court set aside the stay, which meant that Justice Midha's ruling is effective.
The Delhi High Court yesterday resumed the hearing on compliance with Justice Midha’s order by the Future Group entities. Its counsel informed the court that the group has challenged the order in the Supreme Court.
The high court has told the company to either secure a stay from the top court or else it will proceed with the compliance of the emergency arbitrator’s order.
The next date of hearing in the Supreme Court is not known yet.