Kishore Biyani and his corporation Future Retail on Monday got relief from the division bench of the Delhi High Court which stayed the final week’s order of its single-judge bench holding them guilty for going ahead with the `24,713-crore deal with Reliance Retail. This is the second time that the division bench has stayed the order of its single judge with regard to the Future-Amazon dispute.
On March 18, Justice JR Midha had issued show-bring about notice to Biyani and other directors of the Future Group asking why they must not be sent to prison, as sought by Amazon, which is opposing the deal and had filed the petition prior to the court. He had also directed the Future Group to strategy regulatory authorities to recall all approvals granted to the Future-Reliance Retail deal and to deposit 20 lakh as expense for violating the Singapore’s Emergency Arbitrator’s interim keep order of October 25, 2020. The judge had also asked for attaching the assets of Biyani and other directors and asked them to seem prior to it on April 28.
The division bench, which comprised justice DN Patel and justice Jasmeet Singh, has now stayed all these directions till April 30, which is the next date of hearing.
Terming the single judge’s order as “curious”, senior counsel Harish Salve, appearing for the Future Group, sought a keep on it stating, that considering the fact that the SC has permitted the National Company Law Tribunal proceedings to go on, justice Midha could not have passed any orders directing the Future Group to create to statutory authorities to recall the approvals currently granted and bring the NCLT proceedings to a halt. He stated that justice Midha had travelled beyond his scope and passed mandatory directions against Future and its promoters.
Senior advocate Iqbal Chagla, also appearing for the Future group, argued that the single-judge order was against “propriety as it was passed in disregard of the SC directions”.
However, senior counsel Gopal Subramaniam, on behalf of Amazon, opposed any grant of keep, arguing that what ever order has been passed by the single judge was anyway topic to the SC order.
Earlier on February 8, the division bench had stayed the single judge’s February 2 order which had restrained Future Group from looking for clearance for the deal with Reliance Retail from the regulatory authorities. The division bench had then permitted Future Group to go ahead with looking for clearances. Subsequently, Amazon had appealed against the division bench’s order prior to the Supreme Court which on February 22 even though permitted the proceedings for looking for clearances to continue prior to the National Company Law Tribunal’s Mumbai bench, but barred the tribunal from passing a final order till the matter is disposed by it. The SC will next hear the case on April 27.
The fight in between Future Group and Amazon has been going on considering the fact that October 25, 2020, when the Singapore’s Emergency Arbitrator passed an interim order restraining Future Group from going ahead with its deal with Reliance Retail. Amazon, which is looking for the enforcement of the award had approached the court. The single-judge bench had on February 2 ruled that the EA had rightly passed the order and the exact same is enforceable in the exact same manner as that of an arbitrator’s order. It had stated that it is of a clear view that the EA rightly proceeded against Future Retail and its award was not a nullity.
The Future Group-Amazon fight more than the deal is thus at the moment going on in the SC, prior to unique benches of the Delhi HC and NCLT, Mumbai bench.