Amazon moves Supreme Court seeking damages from Future Group
The matter will be heard on 25 November
Amazon NV Investment Holding has moved the Supreme Court for allowing arbitration proceedings against the Future Group to continue before the Singapore International Arbitration Centre (SIAC).
Representing Amazon, senior counsel Gopal Subramanium informed the court that Future Group had expressed unhappiness that the tribunal was contemplating arbitration proceedings.
To this, Chief Justice DY Chandrachud responded, "You cannot keep stultifying the proceedings before the arbitral tribunal. This is just a ploy to delay the proceedings. All ploys by well-heeled parties to delay the arbitration...Your client is trying to be too clever by half and I am concerned."
Rapping the Indian retailer for filing over 200 petitions to stall arbitration proceedings, the judge added, "This is international arbitration. Is this how the courts of this country will bring repute to the process? India must maintain the sanctity of international arbitral proceedings. We will not let the arbitration process be stultified."
The Chief Justice directed the parties to be present before the SIAC on 28 November.
In June, SIAC rejected the plea of Future Group seeking termination of arbitration proceedings over the US giant's investment in Future Coupons. The SIAC in its order held that it would continue the arbitration proceedings that began in October 2020 after Future Group proposed to sell its retail, wholesale, and logistics assets to Reliance industries for Rs.24,713 crores.
The Future Group had recently moved the Delhi High Court against the SIAC ruling.
Future Group and Amazon have been locked in a bitter battle for over a year, following Future Group's decision to sell its Big Bazaar business to Reliance Retail, a subsidiary of Reliance Industries.
Amazon had opposed the deal stating that its Rs.1,400 crores investment in Future Coupons, one of the promoters of Future Retail, did not allow Future to sell retail assets to certain companies, including Reliance. At stake was whether Amazon could become a bigger force than Reliance in the $900 billion retail market with 1.3 billion consumers.
However, the US e-commerce giant is no longer seeking the performance of the contract. It is pursuing monetary compensation for its investment in Future Coupons.
In its petition before the apex court, Amazon notified its constraint to file the plea given the unusual circumstances of the case. It said that in July, the arbitral tribunal fixed the dates for the cross-examination of expert witnesses. But Future Group repeatedly sought adjournments on the pretext of the witness's unavailability.
Amazon further apprised that the international tribunal accommodated the parties on the requested dates. But Future Group, through two non-maintainable petitions, circuitously sought an amendment to the procedural timetable set under the Arbitration and Conciliation Act, 1996.