The Delhi High Court declined Amazon’s request to keep in abeyance for a week its decision to stay the status quo order regarding the Future-Reliance deal
By: Shannia Yessenia, LLB, Prima University
The court was hearing an appeal by FRL challenging the February 2 order of a single judge directing it to maintain the status quo on the ₹24,713 crore deal with Reliance Retail. The argument was made before a bench of Chief Justice D N Patel and Justice Jyoti Singh by senior advocate Harish Salve after the conclusion of arguments on behalf of the US company.
On Monday, the High Court stayed the implementation of single-judge order to Future Retail Ltd (FRL) and various statutory authorities to maintain the status quo regarding the Rs 24,713 crore deal with Reliance Retail. The Court also declined Amazon’s request to keep in suspension for a week its decision to stay the status quo order regarding the Future-Reliance deal.
The court said, “Prima facie there was no reason to seek a status quo order before the learned Single Judge.”
On February 2, the single-bench court of Justice JR Midha had blocked Future Group’s deal with Reliance Industries after Amazon raised objections. The court had passed the order while hearing Amazon’s plea on an emergency award passed by the Singapore International Arbitration Centre (SIAC), which restrained Future from selling retail assets to Reliance.
Amazon, who was represented by senior advocates Gopal Subramanium and Rajiv Nayar, claimed that FRL’s appeal is not maintainable.
Additionally, FRL was directed to state all steps and actions taken by it after the date of the Emergency Award i.e. October 25, 2020, in connection with the deal with Reliance. Amazon also argued that the Emergency Arbitrator (EA) order by the Singapore International Arbitration Centre (SIAC) was a valid award and enforceable. After Amazon concluded its arguments, Salve, in rebuttal, said that if Amazon wanted to salvage FRL, it could have easily invested ₹25,000 crore which was “peanuts” for the US e-commerce giant. He said that Amazon keeps saying it wanted to and wants to help FRL, but it was all “humbug” as it did not take any steps to do so.
Salve further argued that the EA order was not valid as an earlier single judge order of December last year had held that there was no arbitration agreement between FRL and Amazon.
He further said that the instant appeal against the February 2 order was maintainable under the Civil Procedure Code.
FRL, in its appeal filed through law firm Naik and Naik and Company and advocate Harshvardhan Jha, has claimed that if the February 2 order is not stayed, it “would be an absolute disaster” for it as the proceedings before the National Company Law Tribunal (NCLT) for approving the amalgamation scheme have been put on hold.
Furthermore, FRL had told the court that Amazon was not concerned that if the deal fell through, then all the shops of the Indian company would be closed down and its more than 25,000 employees would be without any livelihood.