SC rules in favour of Amazon in Future-Reliance merger case

New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Friday ruled in favour of e-commerce giant Amazon in its dispute with Future Retail Limited(FRL) over the latter’s merger deal with Reliance group. The top court held that that Emergency Award passed by Singapore arbitrator stalling FRL-Reliance deal is enforceable in Indian law.

“We have framed 2 questions and answered them. Emergency arbitrator’s award holds good under Section 17(1) of the Arbitration and Conciliation Act and single Judge’s order for such award cannot be appealed under Section 37(2)”. Justice Nariman read out the operative portion of the judgment in the court today morning at 10.30 AM. Full copy of the judgment is awaited.

This means that the Supreme Court has approved the enforcement of the Singapore Emergency Arbitrator (EA) award, passed at the instance of Amazon, restraining the Rs 24,731 crore deal between Future Retail and Reliance.

Also, the top court has upheld the order of the single bench of the Delhi High Court which had ruled in favour of the enforcement of the Emergency Award and has held that single judge’s order was not appealable to the division bench of the High Court under Section 37(2) of the Arbitration Act.

A bench comprising Justices RF Nariman and BR Gavai had reserved judgment on July 29 after extensively hearing Senior Advocates Gopal Subramanium for Amazon and Harish Salve for FRL (Case Title: Amazon.Com NV Investment Holdings vs Future Retail Ltd and others).

The main issues which were raised by the parties before the Supreme Court were :

  1. Whether Emergency Arbitration Award is recognized under the Arbitration and Conciliation Act and whether it is enforceable under Indian law.
  2.  Whether Amazon’s arbitration agreement with Future Coupons Private Ltd(FCPL) will bind Future Retail Limited and its promoters Biyanis. Can ‘group of companies’ doctrine applied to bind FRL with the arbitration agreement?
  3.  Whether FRL’s appeal before High Court division bench is maintainable, as Section 37 of the Arbitration Act does not provide for appeal against an order allowing enforcement of emergency award, and whether such appeal could be maintained under provisions of the Civil Procedure Code.