Amazon has asked the Competition Commission of India (CCI) to revoke its approval for the Rs 24,713cr deal between Reliance Retail and Future Retail Limited (FRL).
Future Retail has countered by alleging the US retail giant attempted to browbeat the CCI by walking out of a hearing.
The fresh development comes even as the Supreme Court will hear on December 8 two separate leave petitions filed by Future Coupons and FRL against an earlier Delhi high court single judge order directing the attachment of the companies’ properties and those of its promoter Kishore Biyani. The employees of Future Retail, citing risks to 27,000 jobs, have also asked the top court to allow the company to sell its assets to Reliance Retail and rule against Amazon in the dispute.
According to a Reuters report, Amazon said that the CCI should revoke the deal between the Future group and Reliance as it was “illegally obtained” and had violated an order that had suspended the transaction. It further said approval for the deal was a nullity in the eyes of law as the order by the emergency arbitrator in Singapore International Arbitration Centre was still in force.
The independent directors of FRL had recently written two letters to the CCI to revoke an approval given by the body in 2019 due to which Amazon picked up a 49 per cent stake in Future Coupons the promoter group entity. In March, Future Coupons had complained to the CCI that Amazon made misrepresentations and false representations while seeking its approval from the regulator for its investment in the company. Following this, the CCI issued a show-cause notice to Amazon in June 2021.
FRL on Sunday said that on November 24 a hearing was held at the CCI. It alleged that Amazon tried to stall the personal hearing on the plea that they had filed a special leave petition (SLP) in the Supreme Court against a Delhi High Court order of November 16, in response to a petition filed by the Confederation of All India Traders (CAIT). The Delhi High Court had given the CCI two weeks time till November 29 to take a decision on the matter.
Future Retail added that while the CCI refused to postpone the hearing and continued with the exercise, Amazon’s counsels chose to stay on and participate in the hearing during the submissions by Future Coupons. However, when their turn came, its counsel stated that Amazon has not been given as much time as Future Coupons and sought more time .
“The CCI, after internal consultation, told Amazon that postponement cannot be given and to make their oral submissions. At this stage, the counsels to Amazon, in utter disregard to the norms and in utter disrespect to the Indian statutory regulatory authority refused to argue the matter and walked out of the proceedings in an attempt to browbeat the CCI.
FRL firmly believes that the CCI will not be intimidated by this arrogance of Amazon and will take action on its SCN against Amazon in accordance with law and regulations,’’ Future Retail said.