Amazon showed utter disregard to Indian statutory authority by walking out of CCI proceedings, says Future group

PTI | New Delhi | Updated: 28-11-2021 20:01 IST | Created: 28-11-2021 20:01 IST
Amazon showed utter disregard to Indian statutory authority by walking out of CCI proceedings, says Future group
  • Country:
  • India

E-commerce giant Amazon has shown “utter disregard” to the fair trade regulator CCI by “walking out of the proceedings” and such act is a “display of outright contempt for an Indian statutory authority”, the Kishore Biyani-led Future group has alleged.

On November 24, 2021, during the proceedings of the Competition Commission of India (CCI), the team representing Amazon walked out of the hearing when the regulator declined to grant the US-based company extra time and postponement of the matter as they had sought.

In a regulatory filing on Sunday, Future Retail Ltd (FRL) said on November 24, 2021, Amazon - at the commencement of the hearing - tried to stall the personal hearing on the plea that they had filed a petition in the Supreme Court against the Delhi High Court order dated November 16, 2021. The CCI refused to postpone the hearing and continued with the same.

“Amazon’s counsels chose to stay on and participate in the hearing during the submissions by FCPL. However, when their turn came for making the submissions, Amazon’s counsel stated that Amazon has not been given as much time as FCPL (Future Coupons Pvt Ltd) and hence more time should be given to Amazon,” as per the filing.

The CCI, after internal consultation, told Amazon that postponement cannot be given and to make their oral submissions, and 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'', the filing claimed.

Amazon did not respond to emailed queries seeking its response on the matter.

''FRL firmly believes that the CCI will not be intimidated by this arrogance of Amazon and will take action on its SCN (show cause notice) against Amazon in accordance with law and regulations,'' the filing noted.

The CCI was conducting a hearing (on November 24) to revisit its approval given to a 2019 deal between Amazon and Kishore Biyani led group, where the e-commerce major had bought 49 per cent stake in FCPL.

FCPL is a shareholder in Future Retail.

After hearing the counsel, the Commission has “decided to pass an appropriate order in due course'', the filing that included a letter by the CCI Secretary to FCPL stated.

Apart from FCPL, trade body CAIT( Confederation of All India Traders) is also a party in the matter and has completed its submissions.

The CCI had issued a show-cause notice to Amazon in June 2021 based on a complaint by Future Group over the alleged submission of false information by Amazon at the time of seeking approval for its deal with FCPL.

''Amazon defied CCI’s directions and did not file any reply till the date of hearing on 24-11-2021 and till now,'' the filing said.

The Delhi High Court has also directed the CCI to take a decision in this matter within two weeks, starting from November 16, 2021. The High Court order had come over a plea filed by CAIT.

In its filing on Sunday, FRL also shared the letter written by Agarwal Law Associates, the law firm which represented FCPL, before the CCI hearing.

According to the law firm, the conduct of Amazon “smacks of arrogance”.

''It has shown scant respect to the Delhi High Court, the Supreme Court and to this commission,'' the law firm said, adding that Amazon could have moved the Delhi High Court for an extension of time or for a suspension of the order, but it perhaps did not find it necessary to do so. ''Instead it moved the Supreme Court by an interim application relating to the arbitration proceedings, establishing its mistaken belief that the Supreme Court would not deny relief to Amazon throwing established rules of cause of action to the winds,'' the law firm said.

After it failed to get relief from the Supreme Court, it then sought an adjournment from the CCI, and when that was refused, Amazon ''in a display of outright contempt for an Indian statutory authority'', the trillion dollar American company walked out of the hearing.

Meanwhile, the Enforcement Directorate (ED) has summoned senior executives of Amazon India, including its country head Amit Agarwal, and that of the Future group for questioning in a foreign exchange violation probe linked to the disputed deal between the two conglomerates.

Amazon and Future Group have been battling it out in courts after the Kishore Biyani-led group in August last year agreed to sell its assets to billionaire Mukesh Ambani's Reliance Retail on a slump sale basis for Rs 24,500 crore.

Amazon is objecting to the sell-off plans, accusing Future Group of breaching its 2019 investment pact. Future Coupons was founded in 2008 and is engaged in the business of marketing and distribution of gift cards, loyalty cards, and other rewards programmes to corporate customers. The US-based company had approached the Singapore International Arbitration Centre (SIAC) as well as in Indian courts. On November 24, Amazon had also written to the independent directors of Future Retail Ltd (FRL) alleging ''significant financial irregularities'', and said this warrants a ''thorough and independent examination'' of relevant facts and related party transactions between FRL and other Future Group entities.

It alleged that FRL has consistently entered into ''Significant Related Party Transactions'' with various Future Group entities, including with Future Enterprises Ltd, Future Supply Chain Solutions Ltd, Future 7-India Convenience Limited and others, and that some of these related parties predominantly depend on FRL for their business.

Amazon had also written a letter to CCI, requesting it to ''act in aid of the binding injunctions operating against FRL, FCPL and the Biyanis, in terms of the EA (emergency arbitrator) Order and the Order on Vacate Application and recall the Observation Letters forthwith''.

''We reiterate that FRL precipitated the Observation Letters from the SEBI and the Indian Stock Exchanges in violation of the binding directions contained in the EA Order. Consequently, the Observation Letters are in violation of the EA Order, have no legal basis and constitute a nullity,'' the letter, a copy of which was seen by PTI, had said.

(This story has not been edited by Devdiscourse staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

Give Feedback