“Consequently, the present application is disposed of, declining the grant of interim injunction as prayed for by FRL,” justice Mukta Gupta said in her ruling on Monday. Future Retail had moved the court in November, seeking to restrain Amazon from approaching Indian regulators with the interim order from SIAC. “However, the statutory authorities/regulators are directed to take the decision on the applications/objections in accordance with the law,” the Monday ruling said. “We welcome the verdict of the Hon’ble High Court of Delhi rejecting the interim injunction sought by Future Retail and their claim that the emergency arbitrator process is invalid under Indian law,” an Amazon spokesperson said.
Future Group didn’t respond to ET’s queries seeking comment. Future Group had announced in August that it was merging all its entities and assets in Future Enterprises Ltd. These would be acquired by Reliance Retail on a slump sale basis. The court said this agreement was lawful.
“The Resolution dated 29th August, 2020 of FRL approving the proposed transaction between FRL and Reliance satisfies the requirement of a valid contract,” the ruling said. “Further the plea of Amazon that the resolution is in breach of the FRL SHA (shareholder agreement) as no prior consent of FCPL (Future Coupons Pvt Ltd) is taken is negated by the letter dated 29th August, 2020 from FRL to FCPL whereon consent of FCPL is duly enclosed. The resolution and the letter of FRL dated 29th August, 2020 clearly satisfy the first requirement of a subsisting contract, interference wherein is alleged.”
Amazon’s lawyers had said in various hearings that Future’s decision to sell its assets to Reliance was a breach of the US giant’s 2019 contract with Future Coupons, which owns about 9% of Kishore Biyani’s flagship Future Retail. Amazon invested about Rs 1,500 crore to purchase 49% of Future Coupons at the time. During various hearings, lawyers representing Future Retail and Reliance Retail had dismissed the emergency order by the SIAC as non-binding in India and termed it coram non judice, an order passed by a tribunal or court that has no legal authority. “Emergency arbitrator prima facie is not a coram non judice and the consequential EA order not invalid on this count,” the Monday ruling said.