Amazon told to hold talks with Future Group amid raging legal war

KT NEWS SERVICE. Dated: 3/4/2022 4:26:55 PM

NEW DELHI, Mar 03: On senior advocate Harish Salve telling the Supreme Court on behalf of the Future Group that no one was winning its legal battle with US e-commerce giant Amazon, a Bench headed by Chief Justice of India N V Ramana on Thursday asked counsel of both to work out a "gentleman's understanding," better in interest of business.
The Bench, also comprising Justices A S Bopanna and Hima Kohli, said: "We will simply adjourn the matter for 10 days for both sides to negotiate outside the court." The case was adjourned to March 15, directing Delhi High Court and NCLAT not to pass orders in the matter.
What stops Amazon to call Mr Kishore Biyani and discuss? Let me assure you, no one is winning in this battle. Amazon God has to come to the ground and speak to lesser mortals like us..." said Salve appearing for Future Coupons Limited (FRL).
The Court was hearing Amazon's challenge to the Delhi High Court order staying proceedings before a Singapore International Arbitration Centre (SIAC) tribunal in relation to the e-commerce giant's 2019 deal with Future Coupons.
Just before the hearing drew to a close, Salve brought a new issue: "We hear Amazon is starting criminal proceedings and we hope the 10-day period is not used to start a criminal case against us." Senior advocate Gopal Subramanium, appearing for Amazon, assured the Court that no such action would be taken.
On the last date of hearing, the apex court had directed the parties to request the National Company Law Appellate Tribunal (NCLAT) to expeditiously dispose of Amazon's appeal against the Competition Commission of India's order suspending its 2019 deal with the Future Group.
When the matter was taken up on Thursday, CJI Ramana asked how much time the NCLAT would take to decide the appeal. However, Senior Advocate Gopal Subramanium, appearing for Amazon, insisted that the arbitration has to survive.
"Amazon is a foreign investor; even if Reliance India Limited (RIL) or Adani gets FDI, all of us will be in same position...can a person who sets in motion arbitral remedy complain against statutory authority?" Subramanium submitted.
The CJI, however, reprimanded him: "If you take this stand, the matter cannot be decided."
Salve said: "No one is winning. FRL, Reliance and Amazon all have issues. I don't know why we need a court order for a dialogue."
CJI Ramana agreed that it would be in the interest of the parties to resolve the issues through mutual discussions.
"As far as talk is concerned, there are three large business houses. They won't need a mediator. I can assure you if Mr Subramaniam gets in touch with Mr Naik, I will arrange a meeting," Salve told the Court.
He suggested that the matter be adjourned for three weeks while the solicitors have a conversation on how to resolve the matter.
The Court then said that it could direct the Delhi High Court not to pass orders in the matter. The proceedings before the NCLAT could continue, CJI Ramana said.
At this stage, Senior Advocate Mukul Rohatgi pointed out, "We are facing injunction in terms of our scheme. We have a debt of ₹27,000 crore. One company wants to take it up. Now there is a proposal of talks, but what about the injunction?"
CJI Ramana ultimately said, "We will simply adjourn the matter for 10 days and we don't say anything on record. Meanwhile, work out by gentleman's understanding. It will be better in the interest of business. If you can find out some solution, tell us, or we will hear and pass orders."



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