Kishore Biyani-led Future Group on Saturday filed a suit in the Delhi High Court, seeking relief against Singapore International Arbitration Centre (SIAC) stay order obtained by US e-commerce major Amazon.
"The interim order dated October 25, 2020, is passed in an arbitration proceeding initiated by Amazon inter-alia against the Company under an Agreement, wherein the company is not a party to the Agreement," said Future Retail in a regulatory filing.
In August this year, Future reached an agreement to sell its retail, wholesale, logistics and warehousing units to Reliance Industries Ltd (RIL) in a Rs 24,713 crore deal.
Amazon had moved the Singapore International Arbitration Centre (SIAC) arguing that Future Group had breached their contract. Amazon, in 2019, had bought a 49 percent stake in one of Future''s unlisted firms, Future Coupons Ltd, with the right to buy into flagship Future Retail after a period between 3 and 10 years. Future Coupons owns a 7.3 percent stake in Future Retail.
On October 25, SIAC passed an interim award in favour of Amazon, with a single-judge bench of V K Rajah barring Future Retail from taking any step to dispose of or encumber its assets or issuing any securities to secure any funding from a restricted party. Amazon wrote to market regulator Sebi and stock exchanges, urging them to take into consideration the Singapore arbitrator's interim judgement.
On November 1, Future Retail Ltd (FRL) made a filing to the exchanges saying that the Singapore arbitrator's interim order against its deal with RIL is "not binding", and any attempt to enforce it will be "resisted".
Questioning the validity of the order, FRL said the order was passed in arbitration proceedings initiated by Amazon by invoking an arbitration clause in a contract to which it is not a party.
"The EA (Emergency Arbitrator) order is not enforceable under the provisions of the Arbitration and Conciliation Act, 1996 and is not binding on FRL. Any attempt on the part of Amazon to enforce the EA Order shall be resisted by FRL to the fullest extent available under Indian law. FRL is also in the process of taking appropriate legal action to protect its rights," the filing said.
As per the SIAC interim order, a three-member arbitration panel needs to be set up within 90 days with one judge each being appointed by Future and Amazon along with a third neutral judge.
FRL argued that it has been advised that "an Emergency Arbitrator has no legal status" under Part I of the Indian Arbitration and Conciliation Act 1996 and therefore, the proceedings are "void and Coram non-judice". The EA order having been passed by an authority without jurisdiction is a "nullity under Indian law", it had said.
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(Edited by : Jomy)
First Published: IST