Delhi HC asks Future Group to keep status quo on Reliance deal

Chennai: In a major relief for Amazon, the Delhi High Court on Tuesday asked Future Retail Ltd (FRL) to maintain status quo with respect to its Rs 24,713- crore deal with Reliance Retail till the pronouncement of its reserved order. Justice J. R. Midha said the court was satisfied that an immediate interim order was required to be passed to protect the rights of Amazon.

"Respondents (FRL) and other respondents are directed to maintain status quo as on today at 4:49 PM till pronouncement of the reserved order," the judge said.

Amazon had filed a petition under Section 17(2) of the Arbitration and Conciliation Act 1996 for enforcement of the order by the Emergency Arbitrator, Singapore International Arbitration Centre, restraining Future Group from proceeding with the deal. It had submitted that the respondents deliberately and wilfully violated and were continuing violation of the order.

The respondents, including FRL, were also directed to file an affidavit to record the actions taken by them after 25th October, 2020 when the Emergency Arbitrator had given the order and the present status of all those actions, within 10 days. All the concerned authorities were directed to maintain status quo with respect to all matters in violation of the order dated 25th October and file status reports.

The court said that the order of Emergency Arbitrator was enforceable as an order of this court under section 17(2) of the Arbitration and Conciliation Act.

“This Court is of the prima facie view that the Emergency Arbitrator is an Arbitrator, the Emergency Arbitrator has rightly proceeded against the respondent; the order dated 25th October, 2020 is not a nullity, the order dated 25th October, 2020 is an order under Section 17(1) of the Arbitration and Conciliation Act,” it said.

According to Amazon, it had entered a deal with Future Coupons in 2018 on the clear understanding that the group would be the sole vehicle for its retail business and its retail assets would not be alienated without its consent.   


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