Future-Reliance deal case: SC rules in favour of Amazon

SC upholds Singapore arbitrator's order restraining Future Group from going ahead with Reliance deal

Amazon.com NV Investment Holdings LLC and Future Retail Ltd have been locked in a bitter legal battle over the deal

The Supreme Court of India. Credit: PTI Photo

In a big relief to e-commerce giant Amazon, the Supreme Court on Friday upheld the Singapore's emergency arbitrator’s order restraining the Kishore Biyani-led Future group from going ahead with its Rs 24,713-crore deal with Reliance Retail.

The top court said the emergency arbitrator's order is enforceable in India and the Indian Arbitration laws also allowed it. It declared that the Future’s Group’s appeal against the Delhi High Court’s single judge order that stalled the deal was not maintainable.

Read | Intend to pursue all avenues to save deal with Reliance: Future Retail on SC ruling

A bench of Justices R F Nariman and B R Gavai set aside the Delhi High Court division bench’s February 8 and March 22 orders that lifted stay on the Future Retail-Reliance Retail deal. The top court said the Delhi High Court’s single judge was right in upholding the EA’s October 25 order.

It also held that no appeal would lie under Section 37 of the Arbitration Act against an order of enforcement of an EA’s order made under Section 17(2) of the Act.

After the Friday's judgement, the Future group may approach the top court and seek stay on the single judge’s order that stalled the Reliance deal.

Notably, during the pendency of the appeals in the SC and HC, the SIAC had constituted a three-member tribunal which has reserved its final judgment. Once the tribunal’s final judgment comes, all the cases arising from the EA’s order will become invalid.

Amazon.com NV Investment Holdings LLC and Future Retail Ltd have been locked in a bitter legal battle over the deal.

Dealing with the issue of emergency arbitrator's order, the court in its 103-page judgement said, “Such orders are an important step in aid of decongesting the civil courts and affording expeditious interim relief to the parties."

The court said that it is “wholly incorrect to say that Section 17(1) of the Act would exclude an EA’s orders.

Rejecting the Future group’s stand that the EA's order is a "nullity" in absence of an arbitration agreement, Justice Nariman, writing for the bench, said, “a party (the Future group) cannot be heard to say, after it participates in an Emergency Award proceeding, having agreed to institutional rules made in that regard, that it will not be bound by an EA’s ruling."