New Delhi: The Futures-Reliance deal got a fresh chance today (February 1) from the Supreme Court, which set aside the adverse orders of the Delhi High Court and asked it to decide the case on merit. US e-commerce major Amazon has been opposing the Future group decision to go ahead with the Rs 24,731 crore merger deal of Future Retail Ltd (FRL) with Reliance Retail.
A bench comprising Chief Justice N V Ramana and Justices A S Bopanna and Hima Kohli remanded the pleas of Future group firms relating to arbitral award on merger deal with Reliance Retail back to the Delhi High Court.
“We set aside the impugned orders dated February 2, 2021 and March 18, 2021 and other impugned order dated October 29, 2021. We direct the learned (HC) judge to consider issue and pass an order on its own merits uninfluenced by observations,” the bench said in its order.
The CJI said he would request the Chief Justice of the Delhi High Court to set up a bench for speedy disposal of the case.
Amazon and the Future Group have been have been locked in legal battle for months over the deal with Reliance. Amazon has been objecting to the sell-off plans, accusing Future of breaching the ₹ 1,430 crore deal made in 2019.
As part of the deal between Amazon and Future Coupons, Future Retail would have been able to place its products on Amazon’s online marketplace. The matter had gone to an international arbitration tribunal.
The Singapore International Arbitration Tribunal’s decision was in favour of Amazon and restrained the Indian retailer from going ahead with its merger deal with Reliance Retail.
The EA award has been upheld in the final arbitral award of October, 2021.
The high court refused to stay the final arbitral award and by another order, it had imposed costs of Rs 20 lakh on the Future Group and others associated with it and ordered attachment of their properties.
In October, the High Court refused to declare arbitration proceedings with Amazon as illegal. The Futures Group of firms then went to the Supreme Court, appealing against the High Court order.
The Future Group had contended that Amazon used a 2019 deal to assert rights over Future and block its sale of assets to Reliance Retail.
The 2019 deal, it said, was suspended by an antitrust agency and there was no legal basis for arbitration.
In December, the Competition Commission of India suspended its over-two-year-old approval for Amazon’s deal to acquire a 49-per cent stake in Future Coupons Pvt Ltd, FRL’s promoter, and also slapped a penalty of ₹ 202 crore on the e-commerce major.
Future Coupons was founded in 2008 and is engaged in the business of marketing and distribution of gift cards, loyalty cards and other reward programmes to corporate customers.