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Future Group’s asset preservation: SC to expedite hearing on Amazon’s plea

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New Delhi, Mar 22: The Supreme Court on Tuesday said it would list for hearing "as early as possible" the interim plea of e-commerce major Amazon seeking preservation of Future Retail Limited's (FRL) assets besides resumption of arbitration over the merger deal with Reliance Retail, PTI reported.

Future Group’s asset preservation: SC to expedite hearing on Amazon’s plea

A bench headed by chief justice N V Ramana, which had earlier fixed Amazon's plea for hearing on March 23, told senior advocate Gopal Subramanium, appearing for the US firm, that one of the judges, Justice Hima Kohli, was unavailable and hence the hearing cannot take place on the scheduled date.

The Chief Justice N V Ramana-led bench, to which Justice A S Bopanna and Justice Kohli are a part, has been hearing the matters relating to the Amazon-Future dispute.

"We have some difficulties in constituting the bench. My sister (Justice Hima Kohli) has some problems. That is the reason... at least one partner (judge) should be there," the chief justice said.

Mr Subramanium then urged the bench to hear the matter on April 1.

"I think by that time she (Justice Kohli) may come. She had some problems. I will list it as early as possible, subject to the availability of the bench," the chief justice said, adding otherwise, a separate bench would be set up to hear the case.

Earlier, Amazon had apprehended the "disappearance" of assets and sought an interim order from the top court to ensure the preservation of assets of Future Retail Limited besides resumption of arbitration over FRL's merger deal with Reliance Retail.

The bench had taken note of the allegations of the US firm that the "applecart was being upset" by its rivals and asked the Future group firms, FRL and Future Coupons Limited (FCPL), to respond to the interim plea of Amazon and fixed the hearing on March 23.

Amazon and Future group are engaged in multi-forum litigation on the issue of FRL's merger deal to the tune of Rs 24,500 crore with Reliance Retail Limited after the US e-commerce giant dragged the latter to arbitration at the Singapore International Arbitration Centre in October 2020.

It has been alleged by Amazon that on March 3, as many as 600 stores of FRL were taken away by Reliance.

The plea was vehemently objected to by the Future group lawyers on Tuesday.

The top court was told by Amazon that besides seeking resumption of arbitral proceedings, it wanted an order so that the FRL's assets are there for it if it wins the arbitration as the "applecart was being upset".

The bench is hearing Amazon's appeal against the January 5 order of the Delhi High Court, which stayed the arbitration proceedings before the arbitral tribunal over Future Retail's merger deal with Reliance Retail.

(PTI)

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