E-commerce major Amazon moved the Supreme Court on Thursday to stay the operation of a Delhi High Court order of February 8, which had revoked an earlier direction to Future Group to maintain status quo on the sale of its retail assets to Reliance Industries.
Amazon said the February 8 order was ‘ex-facie arbitrary and illegal’. The order was passed by a Division Bench of the High Court on an appeal filed by Future Retail Limited (FRL).
The bench’s order had countermanded a February 2 order by a Single Judge of the High Court, which had directed FRL to maintain status quo on the deal with Reliance pending a final order.
“It is evident that the Single Judge order to maintain status quo was directed for the limited purpose of protecting the substratum of the dispute till a detailed order was issued… However, the High Court, instead of waiting for a detailed order, has issued the interim order (February 8) staying the operation, implementation and execution of the Single Judge order without giving any reasons,” Amazon contended.
Amazon urged the apex court to protect its interests by granting an ex parte stay on the deal between FRL and Reliance. The U.S. firm said the court should intervene to protect its rights as the “balance of convenience” was in its favour.
“Respondents [Future Group] have unequivocally stated that they will continue to take steps to complete the transaction. The greater the progress made towards the completion of the transaction, the harder it will be to unravel it. Over time, the interests of additional third parties may also become entwined and be subsequently compromised,” Amazon said in its petition.
It added “irreparable harm” would be caused if the court did not stay the February 8 order.
Amazon argued that an appeal, as preferred by FRL against the Single Judge’s order, was barred under Section 17(2) of the Arbitration and Conciliation Act, 1996.