Future Group challenges court order blocking Reliance deal

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Kishore Biyani-led Future Retail moved the Delhi High Court on Wednesday against its single judge order directing the company to maintain status quo on its Rs 24,713 crore deal with Reliance Retail, which has been objected to by US-based e-commerce giant Amazon.

The Delhi High Court, on Tuesday, stalled Future’s sale of a swathe of assets to rival Reliance Retail after Amazon raised objections to the deal, in a battle of the retail titans that could reshape the shopping sector as per a report by news agency PTI.

FRL’s appeal was mentioned before a Joint Registrar of the high court who allowed it to be listed for hearing on Thursday, a lawyer associated with the case said.

The court had said that till the pronouncement of the order, Future Retail Ltd and other respondent parties cannot proceed any further with the deal with Reliance, the report said.

In a media statement, Future Retail Ltd (FRL) said the company, after due approval from the Competition Commission of India (CCI) and no objection from SEBI, had filed the scheme of arrangement before the NCLT Mumbai on January 26. The application is yet to be taken up by the NCLT.

Justice J R Midha on Tuesday said the court was satisfied that an immediate interim order was required to be passed to protect the rights of Amazon.

The court had clarified on Tuesday that all the authorities shall maintain status quo in all matters that are in violation of the emergency award passed in the Amazon-Future dispute and file a status report in this regard within 10 days.

Additionally, FRL has been directed to state all the 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.

As per the report, the court further gave a prima facie finding that the Emergency Arbitrator rightly proceeded against FRL, that the Emergency Award was not a nullity, and that it was enforceable under Section 17(2) of the Arbitration Act.

It also prima facie said that the Emergency Award was appealable under Section 37 of Arbitration Act.

“The learned single judge Justice Midha of Delhi High Court today in a petition by Amazon for enforcement of the interim award of the Emergency Arbitrator has ordered status quo with respect to the scheme of arrangement,” FRL said in a statement.

“The company is legally advised that the basis of the interim award of the emergency arbitrator has been superseded by the judgement dated December 21, 2020 passed by the learned single judge, Justice Mukta Gupta of the Delhi High Court. The company will explore all legal remedies and take appropriate steps to pursue the scheme of arrangement,” it added.

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