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HC seeks Future's stand on Amazon plea to set aside court observations against it

HC seeks Futures stand on Amazon plea to set aside court observations against it

New Delhi: The Delhi High Court Wednesday sought response of Kishore Biyani-led Future Retail Ltd (FRL) on Amazon's plea challenging the prima facie observations by a single judge that the US e-commerce giant's attempt to control the Indian entity was violative of FEMA and FDI rules.

A bench of Chief Justice D N Patel and Justice Jyoti Singh issued notice to FRL, Future Coupons Pvt Ltd (FCPL), Reliance Retail and the Biyanis seeking their stand on the plea by Amazon against the observations made by the single judge in a December 21, 2020 interim order. Amazon has sought setting aside of the observations as they have a bearing on its case in arbitration proceedings that were initiated before the Singapore International Arbitration Centre (SIAC).

The US firm, represented by senior advocate Gopal Subramanium, has contended that the observations are inconsistent with the findings in the SIAC emergency arbitral (EA) order of October 25, 2020 against FRL's asset sale under a Rs 24,713 crore deal with Reliance Retail.

It has also contended in its appeal that the observations in the December 21, 2020 order "effectively resulted in allowing FRL to collaterally bypass the EA order".

"The Respondent 1 (FRL) has been relying on these prima facie observations to misconstrue the true import of the impugned order in an effort to mislead regulators to grant approval to the potential transaction, which has constrained the appellant to file the present appeal to quash and set aside the prime facie observations as set out in detail in the appeal," Amazon has said.

Senior advocate Harish Salve, appearing for FRL, told the court, "We have serious objections to the appeal. It is misconceived. We will file our reply as a lot of things have been said (in the appeal) to which we have to respond."

The court then listed the matter for hearing on February 12.

The December 21, 2020 interim order had come on FRL's plea seeking to restrain Amazon from writing to the SEBI, Competition Commission of India and other authorities about the SIAC arbitral order.

The SIAC on October 25, 2020 had passed an interim order in favour of Amazon barring FRL from taking any step to dispose of or encumber its assets or issuing any securities to secure any funding from a restricted party.

The single judge had upheld the validity of the SIAC order and had also declined to grant FRL's plea to restrain Amazon from writing to the statutory authorities and regulators about the arbitral award.

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