A bench of Chief Justice NV Ramana and Justices AS Bopanna and Hima Kohli adopted a carrot-and-stick policy to attempt bringing the warring sides to the negotiation table. It asked both sides to attempt within 10 days a dialogue for settlement and sought a report on the progress by March 15, the next date of hearing.
Amazon is endeavouring to control Future Retail (of Biyani Group) through an investment of 1,431 crore in its sister concern Future Coupons and stalling Reliance Retail’s push to acquire Future’s retail assets for 25,000 crore.
With both parties laying the blame for the protracted litigation at the other’s door, the CJI said, “If you can find an amicable solution to the ongoing multi-forum litigation, it would not hurt anyone and would help increase your business. On the other hand, we can hear both parties and decide the matter in accordance with the law. But, the decision is surely going to hurt one of the parties. The choice is yours.”
Amazon’s counsel Gopal Subramaniam was the first to bite the bait. “Throughout, we are always willing to have a dialogue for resolution of the problem. They (Reliance) have taken over the (Future Retail) shops within 48 hours and we cannot allow the spinners wheel to continue rolling. Let us put our heads together to find a solution.”
The CJI said the court always encouraged settlement between parties and sought the view of Future Coupons counsel Harish Salve, who said, “I have no problem about the business people having a conversation to sort out issues. Behind the scenes, we lawyers always encouraged a dialogue for a settlement. If Amazon has seen the light at the end of the day, what prevents it from having a dialogue with Biyani and whoever? Nobody is winning this battle. Amazon god has to come to ground (sic) and talk to lesser mortals like Biyani.”
The CJI said, “All the involved parties should participate in the talks, not only Amazon and Biyani.” Salve said Reliance should also join. The bench said, “Instead of talking on the phone, why not encourage them to sit face to face and talk out the issues for reaching a settlement.”
Amazon is eyeing Future Retail through 1,431 crore investment in Future Coupons, stalling Reliance Retail’s push to acquire Future’s retail assets for 25,000 crore.