Stop RIL takeover of Future outlets, Amazon tells SC – Times of India

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NEW DELHI: Outmanoeuvred by the swift backdoor takeover of Future’s retail shops by Reliance, Amazon on Wednesday pleaded with the Supreme Court to restrain Reliance’s “frolic” with disputed assets, the focal point of a multi-layered litigation including international arbitration.
Appearing for Amazon, senior advocates Gopal Subramaniam and Ranjit Kumar said even though the arbitral tribunal had restrained Kishore Biyani’s Future Group from proceeding with the agreement to sell its retail stores to Reliance for nearly Rs 25,000 crore, the opposite parties – Biyani Group and Reliance – have shown scant regard to the tribunal’s order.
Amazon was not keen on CJI N V Ramana-led bench’s suggestion that the warring parties could go before the arbitral tribunal and resume proceedings on the condition that the tribunal would first decide Future Coupon’s application for termination of the proceedings.
Coupons’ go-to argument is that since Competition Commission has virtually revoked its earlier nod for Amazon’s Rs 1,473 crore investment in Future Coupon, on the basis of which the multinational had sought to stall Future Retail-Reliance scheme, the arbitration proceedings have become redundant.
Finding both Future Retail and Coupon enthusiastic about CJI Ramana’s suggestion, Subramaniam said, “The tribunal had passed an interim order on October 5, 2020 restraining Future Retail from alienating its retail stores. Despite this and pendency of litigation before the Delhi high court and the Supreme Court, Reliance has virtually taken over 80% of the retail stores in an overnight operation.”
“If people frolic with the assets despite all these proceedings, where does Amazon end up? What will it get when the disputed assets disappear mid-stream of litigation. This is an extraordinary case. So, protect the alienation of FRL retail shops,” he said.
Appearing for Future Group companies, senior advocate Harish Salve and Mukul Rohatgi said Amazon has already approached the Delhi HC seeking an interim order restraining alienation of the assets, even though the assets are still with Future retail and no transfer has taken place. “Amazon cannot be seeking the same relief from the HC, SC and the tribunal all at the same time,” Salve said. Taking note of Amazon’s reluctance to go before the tribunal for seeking interim protection, the CJI-led bench said it would hear all parties on interim relief on March 23.



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