New Delhi– The Supreme Court on Wednesday suggested arbitration proceedings before the Singapore International Arbitration Centre (SIAC) governed tribunal may resume, where the American e-commerce giant Amazon could press for the relief.
A bench, headed by Chief Justice N.V. Ramana and comprising Justices A.S. Bopanna and Hima Kohli said both — Amazon and Future Retail – can mention it before the tribunal, which has already given a hearing date.
Amazon has filed an application, a day after it raised the issue of Future Retail’s shops and assets being taken over by Reliance and the top court allowed it to file an application to seek relief.
Taking note of Amazon’s 370-page application, the bench said it was not possible to pass orders on interim relief the same day, as it required some time to examine the document.
Counsel representing the Future Group agreed on resuming the arbitration proceedings, but Amazon’s counsel insisted on interim relief, even if the hearing in the tribunal were to resume.
The bench noted that one aspect is, if all the parties have agreed that arbitration can commence with termination application, then if an interim order has been passed by tribunal, whichever forum has to enforce it, that forum will enforce it. It further added that another aspect is once the tribunal says it is maintainable, and if the petitioner wants some interim order and then, it can seek that relief before the tribunal.
Senior advocate Gopal Subramanium, representing Amazon, said the tribunal has already granted protection against alienation of Future’s assets. Citing the 2020 order, he added that if there is no adherence to that order, then there is no point in filing another application before the tribunal.
Senior advocate Harish Salve, representing Future Retail, said since all parties have agreed to go before the tribunal, the interim relief application should be heard only by one forum. It cannot be pressed before the top court and the tribunal together, he said.
After hearing submissions from parties, the bench said it will hear the interim relief plea on March 23 and directed Future Retail to file its response on Amazon’s application.
In February, the Delhi High Court stayed the arbitration proceeding. Amazon challenged this order in the apex court.
Amazon’s counsel on Tuesday told the Supreme Court that the dialogue to settle the dispute with Future Retail did not work, and complained against Reliance taking over Future stores, despite no asset transfer order.
Subramanium submitted that the highest court was told that no assets will be transferred, it has been recorded, and during pendency, the orders have been flouted. “I don’t want this message to go out that orders of the court can be happily flouted,” he said.
Salve submitted that nothing has been transferred and as rents for the shops were not paid for over two years, the landlords terminated the leases. “We are completely broke, which is what we’ve been telling all forums… Amazon is driving us to our knees, we’re broke.”
Future Retail Ltd (FRL) entered into a Rs 24,713 crore deal with Reliance Retail to sell its business, which has been objected to by the US-based e-commerce giant Amazon. (IANS)