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SC stays proceedings in Delhi HC, asks NCLT, CCI, SEBI not to pass final orders for 4 weeks

The Supreme Court on Thursday granted Future Group a major victory by staying all proceedings before the Delhi High Court in a case involving the implementation of an award by Singapore's Emergency Arbitrator (EA) prohibiting Future Retail Ltd (FRL) from proceeding with its $24.731 billion merger deal with Reliance Retail.

In a concurrence decision, a bench led by Chief Justice of India NV Ramana has instructed NCLT, SEBI, and CCI not to issue any final orders in the case for four weeks. In the special leave applications filed by Future Coupons Private Ltd and Future Retail Ltd against the Delhi High Court decision directing the seizure of assets of Future group businesses and its promoters Kishore Biyani and others for contempt of the Emergency Award, the SC Bench issued the aforesaid order. The Supreme Court has also issued a notice in response to Future Group's appeal of the Delhi High Court's attachment decision. It took into account the claims of renowned lawyers Harish Salve and Mukul Rohatgi, who represented FRL and Future Coupons Private Ltd (FCPL), respectively, that the arbitrator had reserved the ultimate decision in the matter after hearing both parties.

Senior advocate Gopal Subramanium, who is representing Amazon, the US-based e-commerce giant that is challenging the merger, stated that the company was not interested in taking any punitive action against FRL, FCPL, or their directors, and consented to the order staying the proceedings in the Delhi High Court. The FRL and FCPL have appealed to the Supreme Court against a Delhi High Court judgement dated August 17 that indicated it will carry out an earlier order by a single judge preventing the FRL from proceeding with the purchase based on the EA's verdict.

The Delhi High Court had ordered the seizure of FRL and FCPL assets in March of this year. In October 2020, Amazon filed a complaint with the Singapore International Arbitration Centre (SIAC), alleging that Future Group had breached their contract by engaging in an agreement with rival Reliance. The highest court ruled in favour of Amazon on August 6, holding that the Singapore EA's decision, which halted the $24.731 billion FRL-Reliance Retail transactions, is legitimate and enforceable under Indian arbitration statutes.

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