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Amazon challenges CCI’s suspension of Future Coupons deal at NCLAT, moves Supreme Court against Delhi High Court order

Read why Amazon needs a favourable ruling in either of its legal filings to stay alive in this battle.

Amazon has filed an appeal in the National Company Law Appellate Tribunal (NCLAT) against the Competition Commission of India (CCI) order that suspended the approval given for Amazon’s investment in Future Coupons, Reuters reported. Separately, the company has also filed a challenge in the Supreme Court against the Delhi High Court decision that stayed the arbitration proceedings between Future and Amazon, the report added.

These challenges are the latest in the long-drawn, bitter battle that involves Amazon, Future, and Reliance. While Reliance is trying to acquire Future Group, Amazon is trying everything it can to stop this deal from going through.

Both Amazon and CCI declined to comment on the development, the report said.

Everything You Need To Know About The Amazon Vs Reliance And Future Retail Case and Round-Up Of All The Recent Updates In The Amazon Vs Future Retail Case

Why Amazon needs a win here?

CCI on December 17, 2021, suspended the approval it gave for Amazon’s investment in Future Coupons in 2019 and imposed a ₹200 crore penalty on the company for concealing information while seeking approval. At the heart of the issue is the allegation that Amazon, while seeking approval, did not disclose that it had a strategic interest in Future Retail through its investment in Future Coupons. This order was a huge blow to Amazon because Amazon has so far used its investment in Future Coupons to block the sale of Future Retail to Reliance.

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Based on this CCI ruling, Future Group approached the Delhi High Court and asked the court to stop the arbitration proceedings being held at a Singapore arbitration tribunal. While the court initially declined to interfere, it subsequently halted the arbitration proceedings between Future Group and Amazon on January 5, dealing another blow to Amazon.

In light of these setbacks, Amazon needs a favourable ruling in either of its filings to stay alive in this battle.

What are Amazon’s arguments?

According to unnamed persons who spoke with Business Standard, these are Amazon’s arguments against both the orders:

  • Against CCI order: Amazon has repeatedly alleged that CCI acted beyond its powers by suspending the approval and that there are many grounds to challenge the watchdog’s decision.
    1. More than 12 months: “CCI does not have authority to unwind the deal approval post 12 months. The ‘abeyance’ won’t be applicable. CCI either had to approve or revoke the deal within 12 months,” a source said.
    2. Information was available to CCI: “Also, it would be contended that CCI did say that all information was there but Amazon should have emphatically pointed out FRL,” the source added.
    3. Future Coupons seeking cancellation of deal post receiving funds: Another source indicated that Future Coupons was a joint applicant when seeking approval and is seeking the cancellation post receiving the money and using it.
  • Against Delhi HC order: 
    1. Divisional bench does not have jurisdiction: The Delhi High Court single bench passed an order under section 227 which can only be heard by Supreme Court and not by a divisional bench, thereby creating grounds for appeal, a person familiar with the matter told Business Standard.
    2. Damage to international reputation: The court “injuncted [the] tribunal to stop hearing an arbitration which was underway on the very same day. Unheard of and creates a poor image of the country when an ongoing international commercial arbitration is stopped midway into a session,” the person added.

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