Urge NCLAT to decide SC to Future Amazon on plea challenging CCI order

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New Delhi, Feb 23

 The Supreme Court on Wednesday asked Amazon and Future Group to move National Company Law Appellate Tribunal (NCLAT) to expeditiously dispose of Amazon's appeal challenging the Competition Commission of India (CCI) order, passed in December last year, which suspended its deal with the Future Group.

A bench headed by Chief Justice N.V. Ramana said the plea filed by Amazon, challenging the CCI order, in a way connected to the outcome of the order, which would be passed by the NCLAT. The bench, also comprising Justices A.S. Bopanna and Hima Kohli, said: "Thus, we ask the parties to approach NCLAT for expeditious disposal of the case". The top court adjourned the matter to March 9.

The bench deferred the hearing after arguments on being told that NCLAT is hearing another appeal of Amazon connected with the merger deal.

The bench was hearing a plea by Amazon challenging the Delhi High Court January 5 order, which stayed proceedings before a Singapore International Arbitration Centre (SIAC) over Future Retail's Rs 24,500-crore merger deal with Reliance Retail.

Senior Advocate Gopal Subramanium, representing Amazon, when asked about the status of the case, said that the appeal was pending before the NCLAT, and an application to terminate the proceedings before the arbitral tribunal was also filed.

"The tribunal is also very conscious of the dignity of the process. It will be wrapped up quickly…," he submitted.

The bench pointed out that if it hears the matter, then proceedings before the high court will become infructuous. It queried, "Why can't we have the High Court wrap it up?"

Subramanium submitted in the larger interest of the parties, the arbitration proceedings be allowed to come to an end.

Senior advocate Mukul Rohatgi, representing Future Retail, pointed out that the Section 32 application filed for termination of arbitration can be heard only when challenge to the CCI order is decided.

The bench pointed at two possibilities: It can keep the matter pending and the high court can take a decision in a week's time, or else pursue NCLAT and see if proceedings are completed. After hearing the arguments, the top court adjourned the matter for further hearing on March 9.

In December last year, the CCI had imposed a penalty of Rs 202 crore on Amazon and suspended its approval for the e-tailer's deal with Future Coupons, a promoter firm of the group's public listed company Future Retail Ltd, seeking more information. The Singapore tribunal had held that it could not accommodate its termination application ahead of the scheduled hearings on the main case. This order is under challenge before the NCLAT.


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