Delhi High Court on Tuesday asked Future Retail Ltd to maintain status quo with respect to its ₹24,713 crore deal with Reliance Retail. This should give interim relief to Amazon.com Inc as it battles to foil Future Group’s asset sales to a rival.
Amazon, locked in protracted legal disputes with Future, alleges the firm violated contracts by agreeing to sell its retail assets to rival Reliance Industries last year. Future denies any wrongdoing. Amazon alleges that the deal violates its own contract with the Future Group and had filed an urgent petition last week seeking the suspension. The order can be challenged in a higher court.
The High Court judge hearing Amazon‘s plea on Tuesday said immediate orders were necessary to protect the US company’s rights, saying Future should maintain status quo for now.
Justice J.R. Midha said the court was satisfied that an immediate interim order was required to be passed to protect the rights of Amazon.
“Respondents (FRL) are directed to maintain status quo as on today at 4:49 PM till pronouncement of the reserved order,” the judge said.
Stock exchanges last month cleared Future’s deal with Reliance, despite Amazon‘s repeated requests to regulators to block the deal.
Amazon had approached the high court seeking direction to order enforcement of the award by Singapore’s Emergency Arbitrator (EA) restraining Future Retail from going ahead with its deal with Reliance Retail.
The freeze bolsters the Jeff Bezos-led e-commerce giant, which had also urged the court to jail Future Group’s founder and seize its assets for violating an October order from the Singapore arbitration court. The cash-strapped Indian retailer — it risks bankruptcy if the deal with Reliance fails — is caught between two of the world’s richest men as they compete for dominance in India’s estimated $1 trillion consumer retail market.
The court said it was of the prima facie view that the order of emergency arbitration tribunal in Singapore that asked Future Retail to not proceed with the deal is enforceable in India.