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Future challenges Delhi high court order on RIL deal, Biyani’s detention

Future Retail Ltd (FRL) has challenged the Delhi high court’s 18 March order that directed the attachment of founder Kishore Biyani’s assets and his possible detention, while restraining the retailer from selling its assets to Reliance Industries Ltd (RIL).

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In an exchange filing late on Saturday, Future Group said that it has filed the appeal before the Delhi high court. A division bench of the high court is likely to hear the case on Monday. The group may approach the Supreme Court if the ruling of the division bench is not favourable.

On Saturday, Mint first reported that Future Group has decided to challenge the order that was passed following an appeal by US-based e-commerce giant Amazon.com Inc.

Future Group feels that the high court has gone beyond the scope of the appeal by Amazon by passing certain orders.

Imposing a monetary penalty for allegedly breaching an arbitration order; ordering attachment of assets, and urging detention of Biyani are additional areas that the single-judge bench of Delhi high court has entered without any such prayer by the appellant Amazon. The court has also penalized Future Group by directing the group and its directors to deposit ₹20 lakh in the Prime Minister’s Relief Fund for providing covid-19 vaccines to senior citizens of below poverty line category.

“Arguments against such additional orders form the main part of the appeal by Future Group,” said a person familiar with Future Group’s decisions.

In an exchange filing on Friday, FRL said the operative portions of the latest order have already been covered by the ad-interim order on 2 February, which was stayed by a division bench of Delhi high court in an appeal filed by FRL.

“With respect to the other directions passed by the learned single judge, the promoters (Biyanis) will take appropriate remedies as advised,” it said.

On Thursday, following an appeal by Amazon against Future Group, a single-judge bench of the high court ordered FRL not to take any further step towards its deal with RIL while holding that FRL has “wilfully violated Singapore International Arbitration Centre’s emergency order” with regard to the deal.

The single-judge bench of Justice J.R. Midha also ordered that a show-cause notice be served on Future Group, questioning why Biyani and Future Group’s directors should not be detained for three months in a civil prison for violating the SIAC order.

The bench also ordered the physical presence of Biyani and others before it on 28 April, by which the attachment of his properties has to be completed.

On 25 October, SIAC, an emergency arbitration award restrained FRL from going ahead with the deal with Ambani’s firms. This followed an appeal by Amazon, which said that according to a commercial agreement bet-ween Amazon and Future signed in August 2019, without Amazon’s prior consent no alliance involving retail asset-sale could be forged with 30 specific entities, including RIL.

The Delhi high court’s order followed an appeal by Amazon against Future Group for ignoring the legality of the arbitration ruling.

On Wednesday, Mint reported that Future Group has appealed to SIAC seeking an interim stay on the emergency arbitration order and removal of FRL from the scope of the order, which temporarily blocked the group from selling its assets to Ambani, till the final outcome is decided.

The cash-strapped Future Group is trying to expedite the deal to pay debtors and save the Big Bazaar retail chain from collapse. LiveMint

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