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Reliance-Future Deal: Big Win For Amazon, SC Upholds Arbitrator Award

The verdict was pronounced by a bench Justices RF Nariman and BR Gavai

Updated
India
2 min read
Amazon restrains Future group from proceeding with $3.38 billion deal with Reliance
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The Supreme Court on Friday, 6 August pronounced its verdict in favour of the e-commerce company, Amazon, and upheld Singapore’s Emergency Arbitrator (EA) award which restrained the Rs 24,731 crore deal between Reliance Retail and Future Retail Ltd.

The apex court judgement ruled the October order by a Singapore arbitrator, which put the deal on hold after considering Amazon's objections, valid.

Further, the top court upheld the single-bench order of the the Delhi High Court, which had previously ruled in favour of the emergency award's enforcement, and stated that the judge's order was not appealable to the HC's division bench under Section 37(2) of the Arbitration Act.

Amazon's Plea

The e-commerce giant had submitted a plea disputing the deal between Future Retail and Reliance, and contending the division bench's order dated 22 March.

The division bench of the Delhi HC had ordered a stay on the order, stating that the foreign EA was enforceable under Indian law.

A bench Justices RF Nariman and BR Gavai pronounced the verdict. They had reserved the order on 29 July.

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With the term Emergency Arbitrator absent from the Indian Arbitration and Conciliation Act, the verdict was set to deliberate over the legality and enforceability of an EA award.

The bench had said, "We will decide whether EA award falls under section 17 (1) (which deals with interim award by arbitral tribunal) of the Arbitration and Conciliation Act. And if yes, then whether it can be enforced under section 17 (2) (of the Act)," PTI quoted.

The section 17 (1) of the Act states, "Unless otherwise agreed by the parties, the arbitral tribunal may, at the request of a party, order a party to take any interim measure of protection as the arbitral tribunal may consider necessary in respect of the subject-matter of the dispute."

Background

The Supreme Court had earlier directed the National Company Law Tribunal (NCLT) to not pass the final order on regulatory approvals relating to the deal and had began hearing the final arguments on 20 July.

Future and Amazon have been locked in a legal tussle over the Future Group’s Rs 24,713 crore agreement with Reliance Industries, alleging that the deal breached some of Amazon’s pre-existing contracts with Future Group.

In August 2020, Future Group had entered into an agreement with Reliance Retail to sell its retail, wholesale, logistics and warehouse businesses to Reliance Retail Ventures.

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