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Delhi HC refuses to interfere in Amazon–Future Retail conflict, says regulators can decide on their own

The Delhi High Court on Monday refused to stop Amazon from pushing regulators to stop the sale of the Future Group’s businesses to Reliance Retail, LiveLaw reported. Justice Mukta Gupta said in a 132-page judgement obtained by LiveLaw (not yet made available on the Delhi High Court’s website) that while it wouldn’t stop the deal from happening, the court wouldn’t interfere with regulators making their own assessment of the legality of Future Retail’s sale. The Emergency Arbitrator’s order that Amazon obtained from Singapore was not repudiated either, putting the ball firmly in the court of regulatory agencies.

The stakes are high for this deal, which is valued at ₹24,713 crore. Each party to the case sent reputed and seasoned litigators to the Delhi High Court, with Gopal Subramanium appearing for Amazon, Harish Salve appearing for Future Retail, Mukul Rohatgi appearing for Future Coupons, and Abhishek Manu Singhvi appearing for Reliance. Amazon argued that it had the right to veto the sale to Reliance due to terms of a contract with Future Coupons, FRL’s promoter entity. Future argued that Amazon, and the emergency arbitration order it had obtained, did not have standing in the Indian legal system, and that Amazon had essentially signed a deal with Future Coupons to sidestep FDI norms, supposedly weakening its claims of a veto.

It’s not clear which side regulatory agencies will eventually decide on; the Competition Commission of India, for its part, went ahead with its approval of the deal last month in spite of Amazon’s objections.

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