NEW DELHI: The National Company Law Appellate Tribunal (NCLAT) on Monday adjourned till February 25, the hearing on the plea of e-commerce major Amazon, seeking an interim stay over the order passed by fair trade regulator CCI, which suspended the over-two-year-old approval for its deal with Future Coupons Pvt Ltd (FCPL).
When the matter was called for hearing, a two-member bench expressed its difficulties to take up the matter on Monday, as one of the members is retiring in the next four days, after completing his tenure.
In this matter, NCLAT would also have to hear other parties such as fair trade regulator CCI, before passing an order and it would take some more time and then the retiring member would not be a part of the bench.
“Hence we are posting the matter to the next week,” said the NCLAT bench, while directing to list Amazon’s plea on February 25, for hearing.
During the proceedings, senior counsel Gopal Subramaniam representing Amazon, requested to stay the order passed by CCI as 60 days’ time to implement the CCI order is expiring this week.
However, the bench said that the original order was passed on December 16, and it can take up the matter next week.
“I am proceeding under the footing that the commission understands that everything stands extended because of the exigencies of the court,” he said.
Senior counsel Mukul Rohatgi appearing for FCPL said he was opposing any stay in the matter.
“We are opposing any stay and 60 days expires… It’s a penalty of Rs 200 crore. Whether they pay it today or later. There is no urgency. 60 days urgency is that the CCI has asked Amazon to apply afresh. If they want to apply, then they may or not, if they do not want,” said Rohatgi.
Earlier on February 7, NCLAT had listed Amazon’s plea on hearing on February 14, to hear and pass an interim order and stay the operations of the order passed by the Competition Commission of India (CCI) in December last year till it finally decides the matter.
In December, the CCI had suspended the Amazon-FCPL deal saying that the US e-commerce major had suppressed information while seeking clearances for the transaction back then.
In a 57-page order, CCI had said the approval for the Amazon-Future Coupons deal “shall remain in abeyance”.
Amazon and Future have been locked in a bitter legal tussle after the US e-commerce giant dragged Future Group to arbitration at the Singapore International Arbitration Centre (SIAC) in October 2020, arguing that FRL had violated their contract by entering into a deal for the sale of its assets to billionaire Mukesh Ambani’s Reliance Retail on a slump-sale basis for Rs 24,713 crore.
Recently, Future Retail had also approached SIAC to stay the arbitration proceedings on the basis of the order passed by CCI.
However, SIAC had rejected the plea.
Following it, Future group had approached the Delhi High Court, where a division bench on January 5, stayed proceedings scheduled on January 5-8 at SIAC.
The said order has also been challenged by Amazon before the Supreme Court.
SIAC is adjudicating Amazon’s objections against Future Group’s Rs 24,713-crore deal with Reliance Retail Ventures Ltd, a subsidiary of Reliance Industries Ltd, announced in August 2020, for sale of the retail and wholesale business, and the logistics and warehousing business.
Earlier this month, the Supreme Court set aside three Delhi High Court orders including the refusal to grant a stay on the final arbitral award, which had restrained Future Retail Ltd from going ahead with its Rs 24,731-crore merger deal with Reliance Retail and ordered fresh adjudication.
The apex court had also set aside the High Court’s order of February 2 last year, by which it had directed Future Retail Ltd (FRL) to maintain the status quo in relation to the merger deal.