“This order has been there for over two months. It is a desperate attempt to get some observation from the court,” senior counsel for Future Retail, Darius Khambata, told the single-judge bench of Justice J.R. Midha, the Bar and Bench reported.
The emergency award in question had restrained Future Group from going ahead with the deal with Reliance Retail.
Khambata contended that the present petition, which seeks enforcement of the emergency award under Section 17(2) of the Arbitration & Conciliation Act, was not maintainable, as per the report.
It was asserted that only an order of a final arbitral tribunal could be enforced under Section 17(2) and not an emergency award, which was completely distinct in nature.
Khambata further pointed out that while the single judge in FRL’s suit against Amazon had found emergency arbitrations to be included under Part I of the Arbitration Act, the awards were not held to be enforceable under Section 17(2), the Bar and Bench report said.
Referring to the Delhi High Court judgement in the Raffles case, Khambata asserted that the remedy before Amazon was to either file a suit for the enforcement of the emergency award or move a plea under Section 9 of the Arbitration Act, the report said.
Senior advocate Harish Salve also began his submissions on behalf of FRL.
Salve opposed Amazon’s claim that it was under an obligation to seek permission from it to sell its retail assets.
“If this transaction (with Reliance) cancels, the shops will close just because this fat American company wants to make money,” Salve said as he claimed that the Covid-19 pandemic “tanked” the company which runs Big Bazaar and employs thousands of people.
Salve stated that FRL had no agreement with Amazon and the agreement was only between Amazon and FRL’s investor, Future Coupons Pvt Ltd (FCPL).
“Amazon in its representation to CCI said it is investing in FCPL to promote its business of gift and loyalty card. Rs 1,430 crore were invested by Amazon in FCPL… but FRL has no agreement with Amazon. FCPL bought shares in FRL,” he said.
Salve added, “If FRL goes into IBC, this investment (by Amazon) is a bogey. Their (Amazon) concern is that Reliance shouldn’t expand its business in India and take control over 1,500 shops. It is not about Rs 1,400 crore. American company doesn’t want this competition.”
Appearing for Amazon, senior advocate Gopal Subramanium clarified that Amazon’s agreement with FCPL was “coupled with the assurance” that retail assets would be protected.
After hearing the senior counsel at length, the court issued a notice in the petition. The matter would be heard next on February 1, the Bar and Bench reported.