Amazon-Future Hearing #6: Order Allowing Parties to Resume Arbitration at 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 Krishna Murari and Hima Kohli issued an Order in the Amazon-Future dispute today. The Bench was deciding whether to resume arbitration between Future Retail and Amazon before the Singapore International Arbitration Tribunal (SIAC). As the long drawn series of hearings came to an end, the visibly relieved CJI quipped that he hoped to never have to hear the matter again.

Although both parties agreed to continue arbitration in these hearings, the matter could not be disposed of due to Amazon’s claim that Future Retail was clandestinely transferring its property to Reliance. Amazon filed an injunction on 15th March 2022 to stop the alienation of Future Retail’s assets in Reliance’s favour. They argued that the Court’s decision on the arbitration will be meaningless if Reliance continues to acquire Future Retail’s assets. 

In the previous hearing, CJI Ramana directed the parties to file a joint memo detailing the exact relief sought. Noting that the present case’s scope was limited to continuing arbitration, CJI Ramana advised Amazon to first approach the Delhi High Court to hear its plea on the alienation of Future’s assets. 

Arbitration to Continue with Priority on Application for Termination

In today’s hearing, Amazon and Future agreed to resume arbitration in Singapore. 

In light of the Competition Commission of India’s revoking of Amazon’s permission to invest in Future Coupon, Future Retail filed an application to terminate the arbitration. Future Retail argued that if the initial agreement between Amazon and Future Coupon is invalid, then the dispute and subsequent arbitration arising from that agreement becomes infructuous—or baseless and thereby unnecessary. 

In its Order, the SC directed the tribunal to first hear Future Retail’s request to terminate arbitration. 

Interim Application Withdrawn

With the cooperation of Senior Advocate Mr. Harish Salve (counsel for Future Retail) and Senior Advocate Mr. Mukul Rohatgi (counsel for Future Coupon), Senior Advocate Mr. Gopal Subramaniam (counsel for Amazon) approached the Delhi High Court to expeditiously hear his plea on the alienation of Future Retail’s property. Seeing that the Delhi High Court was ready to address their concerns, Amazon withdrew its Interlocutory Application before the Supreme Court.