Amazon-Future Hearing #3: Interim Relief Vital to Continue Arbitration in Singapore

Amazon-Future-Reliance Dispute

Judges: N.V. Ramana CJI, A.S. Bopanna J, Hima Kohli J

A Bench composed of Chief Justice N.V. Ramana and Justices A.S Bopanna and Hima Kohli, continued to hear the Amazon-Future-Reliance dispute today. In the previous hearing, the Bench directed Amazon to submit an application explaining the exact relief they seek in the matter. Today, Senior Advocate Mr. Gopal Subramaniam appearing for Amazon stated that they require relief to ensure that Reliance does not acquire more assets while the matter is being heard by the Singapore International Arbitration Centre (SIAC).

The present appeal is regarding the continuation of arbitration proceedings before the SIAC. In December 2021, Future approached the Delhi High Court to stay the arbitration proceedings underway in Singapore against the sale of Future Group to Reliance. On the January 5th 2022, a two-Judge Bench of the Delhi HC stayed the arbitration proceedings. The Bench relied on the Competition Commission of India’s revocation of the agreement between Amazon and Future Coupons to conclude that the dispute arising from it was invalid. Amazon appealed against the decision in the SC.

While the parties agree that the arbitration before SIAC should continue, Mr. Subramaniam raised concerns about Reliance’s acquisition of Future outlets. He stated that despite two orders from SIAC halting the sale between Future and Reliance, assets have been acquired by Reliance. Concerned that this acquisition will continue and leave Amazon with nothing to claim if they win the dispute, he asked the SC to issue orders halting all sale related activities between Future and Retail.

Senior Advocate Mr. Harish Salve argued that the parties are before the Court to decide whether the SIAC proceedings may continue. Pointing out that Amazon has additionally approached the Delhi High Court for similar relief (enforcement of SIAC orders), he argued that the SC need not decide the matter of interim relief in the present appeal.

Mr. Subramaniam insisted that the SC hear the reasons for why it must interfere at this stage. He argued that there has been no adherence to the SIAC orders, and that there was ‘no point’ going to the SIAC again if there was no surety that more of Future’s assets were not lost to Reliance.

CJI Ramana stated that it would be difficult to give an order for interim relief while there are already SIAC orders and the Delhi High Court has been approached for enforcement. He stated that the Bench would next hear the matter on February 23rd 2022, which would give sufficient time for the parties to file responses to the request for interim relief.