In a major victory for the Amazon.com Inc., the Supreme Court on Friday held that it could validly seek an interim order from the Singapore arbitral tribunal which had halted the Future Group’s $3.4 billion sale of retail assets to Mukesh Ambani’s Reliance Industries Ltd (RIL).
The bench, headed by justice Rohinton F Nariman, affirmed the single judge order of the Delhi high court and upheld the enforceability of a Singapore-based Emergency Arbitrator (EA) award in favour of Amazon.
Reading out the operative part of the order, justice Nariman said the EA award was upheld under Section 17 of the Arbitration and Conciliation Act, 1996. The provision prescribes a mechanism for parties to an arbitration to seek interim reliefs from the arbitral tribunal during the pendency of the arbitral proceedings.
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The legal wrangle has witnessed a tussle for dominion over India’s growing e-commerce market. The court order at the instance of United States-based Amazon restores the status quo on the FRL-Reliance deal till the time various legal issues related to the matter are finally decided.
Representing Future retail, senior advocate Harish Salve had argued that the EA did not have any place in the Indian laws and that such an award could not be enforced under Section 17 of the Arbitration Act.
Amazon, in turn, had banked on the October 25, 2020 EA order passed by the Singapore tribunal and argued that the Future Group was bound by the EA award.
On February 22, the Supreme Court restrained the National Company Law Tribunal (NCLT) from approving the deal between the FRL and RIL. The top court said that the NCLT’s Mumbai bench will not pave the way for the FRL-RIL deal even if Future Group holds a meeting of its creditors and shareholders to clear the proposed amalgamation.