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Future Group moves HC against order restraining Future-Reliance deal

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The Future Group has approached the Delhi HC challenging a single judge’s order upholding the Singapore’s Emergency Arbitrator’s (EA) order restraining Future Retail Ltd (FRL) from going ahead with its Rs 24,713 crore deal with Reliance Retail Limited to sell its business, which was objected to by US-based e-commerce giant Amazon, according to a PTI report.

The appeal by FRL, Future Coupons Pvt Ltd (FCPL) will be heard on March 22 by a bench of Chief Justice D N Patel and Justice Jasmeet Singh.

The appeal, filed through advocate Harshvardhan Jha, has challenged the single judge’s March 18 judgment directing Kishore Biyani-led FRL not to take further action in relation to the deal with Reliance and holding that the group willfully violated the Singapore Arbitrator’s order.

Justice J R Midha had rejected all the objections raised by Future Group and imposed a cost of Rs 20 lakh on the Future Group and its directors and directed them to deposit the amount in Prime Minister’s Relief Fund within two weeks for being used for providing COVID-19 vaccination to senior citizens of Below Poverty Line (BPL) category of Delhi.

The March 18 verdict had come on Amazon’s plea seeking direction to order enforcement of the award by Singapore’s EA on October 25, 2020, restraining FRL from going ahead with its Rs 24,713 crore deal with Reliance Retail.

The high court, which directed the presence of Biyani and others before it on April 28, had also ordered attachment of their properties and asked them to file an affidavit detailing their assets as on today within one month.

It had also asked them to show cause as to why they be not detained under civil prison for a term not exceeding 3 months for violating the emergency arbitrator’s order and file reply within two weeks.

The single judge, which has listed the matter for April 28 for reporting compliance of its order, had held that the EA is an arbitrator for all intents and purposes and he had rightly invoked the ‘Group of Companies’ doctrine in relation to the Future Group companies.

It had said the respondents have raised a vague plea of nullity without substantiating the same and it was done to mislead this Court.

It had also directed the Future Group to approach authorities for recalling the approvals granted for the FRL-Reliance deal and also asked them not to violate the EA’s October 25 last year order.

The high court had also asked the Future Group to place on record the details of action taken by it in connection with the Reliance deal after the October 25, 2020 order.

Amazon, in its interim plea, had sought to restrain FRL from taking any steps to complete the transaction with entities that are a part of the Mukesh Dhirubhai Ambani (MDA) Group.

Future Group and Amazon have been locked in a battle after the US-based company took FRL into the emergency arbitration over alleged breach of a contract between them.

Justice Midha had earlier, in an interim order, directed FRL to maintain status quo in relation to its deal with Reliance. However, it was stayed by the division bench of the high court.

Amazon challenged the division bench’s order before the Supreme Court where the plea is pending. NV Investment Holdings LLC, in its plea, had also sought detention of the Biyanis, directors of Future Coupons Pvt Ltd (FCPL) and FRL and other related parties in civil prison and attaching of their properties for alleged “wilful disobedience” of the emergency arbitrator’s order.

Amazon had also sought to restrain Future Group from taking any steps to transfer or dispose of FRL’s retail assets or the shares held in FRL by the Biyanis in any manner without prior written consent of Amazon.

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