Future-Reliance deal: NCLT can carry on proceedings but can not pass final order, says SC – Mint

The Supreme Court Monday asked the National Company Law Tribunal (NCLT) not to pass a final order Future Retail Ltd’s 24,713-crore asset sale to Reliance Industries Ltd. The apex court also agreed to hear Amazon’s plea against the Delhi High Court verdict staying its single-judge directive to maintain status quo on the deal. The e-commerce giant has moved the top court against the order of the high court division bench which paved the way for the Reliance-Future Retail Ltd deal.

Senior advocate Harish Salve, appearing for the Future group, said however that the top court’s stay order will prolong the proceedings by the NCLT by at least six weeks. Recording his submission, the Supreme Court bench said, “The NCLT proceedings will go on but will not culminate into any final order on amalgamation of FRL with Reliance.”

A bench comprising Justices R F Nariman and B R Gavai issued notices to FRL, chairperson Kishore Biyani and others and sought their replies to the Amazon plea.

The Delhi High Court on 8 February had stayed its single judge direction to FRL and various statutory authorities to maintain status quo on the mega deal. The interim direction was passed on FRL’s appeal challenging the 2 February order of the single judge.

The high court division bench had also declined Amazon’s request to keep its order in abeyance for a week so that it can explore appropriate remedies.

In August last year, Future had reached an agreement to sell its retail, wholesale, logistics and warehousing units to Reliance.

Subsequently, Amazon took FRL into an emergency arbitration before the Singapore International Arbitration Centre (SIAC) over an alleged breach of contract by the Future group.

Amazon had first filed a plea before the single judge for enforcement of the 25 October, 2020 Emergency Arbitrator (EA) award by the SIAC restraining FRL from going ahead with its 24,713-crore deal with Reliance Retail.

FRL, in its appeal, had earlier claimed that if the 2 February order was not stayed it “would be an absolute disaster” for it as the proceedings before the NCLT for approving the amalgamation scheme have been put on hold.

Amazon also approached the NCLT urging it not to allow convening of any meeting of Future Group’s shareholders or creditors for approval.

FRL also moved the high court to restrain Amazon from writing to SEBI, CCI and other regulators about SIAC’s order, saying it amounts to interfering with the agreement with Reliance.

(With inputs from agencies)

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