The Supreme Court on Wednesday ordered Amazon and Future to move the Singapore International Arbitration Centre-governed arbitral tribunal to resume the arbitration proceedings in a dispute concerning Future’s proposed ₹24,500 crore deal with Reliance.
A three-judge Bench led by Chief Justice of India N.V. Ramana set aside a January order of a Division Bench of the Delhi High Court that stayed the proceedings before the arbitral tribunal.
“The parties will approach the arbitral tribunal to resume the arbitration proceedings on an understanding that the arbitral tribunal may hear FRL’s [Future Retail Limited] termination application and termination applications filed by respondents [Future group companies] under Section 32(2)(c) of the Arbitration and Conciliation Act, 1996 in priority to other matters, and pass orders,” the Supreme Court directed.
Section 32(2)(c) says “the arbitral tribunal shall issue an order for the termination of the arbitral proceedings where the arbitral tribunal finds that the continuation of the proceedings has for any other reason become unnecessary or impossible”.
“I hope there is no need for me to hear this matter again during my tenure,” Chief Justice Ramana remarked while disposing off the case.
On April 4, the court asked the companies to file a joint memo of consent terms after both agreed to resume proceedings before the Singapore International Arbitration Centre (SIAC).
In March, Amazon and Future prima facie agreed to the court’s suggestion to approach the tribunal with a request to resume the proceedings in the dispute.
Failure of talks
The suggestion to return to the tribunal had come after the failure of talks for an amicable settlement of the dispute.
Amazon and Future also agreed in March that they could even request the tribunal to hear and decide, on a priority basis, the termination applications under Section 32 of the Act.
“This entire dispute started because our application under Section 32 to terminate the arbitration proceedings was not taken up at the relevant time in January. Now if the tribunal can take our application in April, then all these proceedings can come to an end,” senior advocate Mukul Rohatgi, for Future, had said.
“The sooner we make the request the better,” senior advocate Gopal Subramaniam, for Amazon, had submitted.
Consequently, in the previous hearing on April 4, the court asked both the parties to prepare the joint memo.
“It is stated and agreed by both parties that they wish to appear before the Singapore International Arbitration Centre and request that the proceedings, pending adjudication before it, be expedited on the issues agreed upon between them,” the Supreme Court recorded in its April 4 order while listing the case for disposal on Wednesday.