The National Company Law Appellate Tribunal (NCLAT) will hear e-commerce major Amazon's interim plea on February 14, seeking a stay over the order passed by fair trade regulator CCI that had suspended the over two-year-old approval for its deal with Future Coupons Pvt Ltd (FCPL).
A three-member bench on Monday directed to list Amazon's plea on February 14 to pass an interim order and stay the operations of the order passed by the Competition Commission of India (CCI) in December last year till it finally decides the matter. "The registry is directed to list on February 14 for hearing," said the NCLAT bench. The appellate tribunal also directed to list the appeals filed by the Confederation of All India Traders (CAIT) and All India Consumer Product Distributors Federation on the same date. During the proceedings, Gopal Subramaniam representing Amazon requested to stay the order passed by the CCI until it hears the appeal. According to him, 60 days window period granted by the CCI for complying with its order is coming to an end.
However, it was opposed by Harish Salve, who was appearing for the Future Group firm and said the matter was fixed today only for directions. "Please fix a date, we would argue it," said Salve adding that today the matter is listed only for fixing the date. Meanwhile, counsel appearing for the CCI suggested starting a day-to-day final hearing of the matter as "it was an important issue and all submissions in the matter had been completed". On this, the appellate tribunal said the matter would be taken on February 14 only for hearing on the interim application and would fix the matter for hearing later. In December, the CCI had suspended the Amazon-FCPL deal saying that the US e-commerce major had suppressed information while seeking clearances for the transaction back then. In a 57-page order, the CCI had said the approval for the Amazon-Future Coupons deal "shall remain in abeyance".
Amazon and Future have been locked in a bitter legal tussle after the US e-commerce giant dragged Future Group to arbitration at the Singapore International Arbitration Centre (SIAC) in October 2020, arguing that Future Retail Ltd (FRL) had violated their contract by entering into a deal for the sale of its assets to billionaire Mukesh Ambani's Reliance Retail on a slump sale basis for Rs 24,713 crore. Recently, FRL had also approached the SIAC to stay the arbitration proceedings on the basis of the order passed by the CCI.
However, the SIAC had rejected the plea. Following it, the Future group had approached the Delhi High Court, where a division bench on January 5, stayed proceedings scheduled on January 5-8 at the SIAC. The said order has also been challenged by Amazon before the Supreme Court. The SIAC is adjudicating Amazon's objections against Future Group's Rs 24,713-crore deal with Reliance Retail Ventures Ltd, a subsidiary of Reliance Industries Ltd, announced in August 2020, for sale of the retail and wholesale business, and the logistics and warehousing business.
Earlier this month, the Supreme Court set aside three Delhi High Court orders including the refusal to grant a stay on the final arbitral award which had restrained FRL from going ahead with its Rs 24,731 crore merger deal with Reliance Retail and ordered fresh adjudication. The apex court had also set aside the high court's order of February 2 last year, by which it had directed FRL to maintain the status quo in relation to the merger deal