Wednesday, September 28, 2022

Future-Reliance deal: Supreme Court begins hearing Amazon plea against stay order

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The Supreme Court on Tuesday began hearing the petition filed by Amazon against the Delhi High Court Division Bench order, which had stayed the order of the Single-Judge Bench, directing status quo on the Future-Reliance deal.

The Bench of Justice Rohinton Fali Nariman and Justice B.R. Gavai started hearing the arguments today. Earlier, a Division Bench of the Delhi High Court presided by Chief Justice D.N. Patel and Justice Jyoti Singh, while passing the order, had observed that since Future Retail Limited (FRL) is not a party to Arbitration Agreement, prima facie, group of companies doctrine can’t be invoked. It further noted that in preliminary findings, there was no reason to seek a status quo order from the Single Judge.

“Statutory authorities like SEBI cannot be restrained from proceeding in accordance with law,” the bench said. The division bench also stated that the observations made by it are only prima facie and the single judge shall not be influenced by it while passing its order.

The order was passed while the court was hearing an appeal filed by Future against an order of the single judge order directing it to maintain status quo on its Rs 24,713-crore deal with Reliance that has been earlier objected by Amazon. The appeal filed before the Supreme Court states that the High Court “failed to appreciate that orders made under the Act [Arbitration and Conciliation Act, 1996] are appealable only if there exists a provision under the Act specifically providing for a right to appeal”.

Since the single bench order was passed under Section 17(2) of the act, and there being no provision for appeal under the said section, no no appeal would lie against the order. The petitioner further submitted “the High Court, while issuing the Impugned Interim Common Order, conveniently ignored the fact that Section 13(1) of the Commercial Courts Act, 2015 merely provides the forum for filing appeals and does not confer an independent right of appeal. Further, it is the parameters of Section 37 of the Act alone which have to be looked at in order to determine whether the appeal is maintainable or not.”

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The petitioner has further argued that the High Court while passing the impugned interim order failed to appreciate that the Single Judge Order was issued by the Single Judge of the Hon’ble High Court for the limited purpose of preserving the rights of the parties till the pronouncement of the final orders and after coming to the conclusion that the Respondents have violated the directions contained in the EA Order including on the basis of the Respondents’ own unequivocal submission that would not maintain status quo.

Hence in the light of the above arguments, the petitioner has sought a stay on the impugned order of the Division bench. The appeal has been filed by Advocate Mohit Singh on behalf of Amazon.

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