India: Future Group to challenge Delhi HC order on Biyani over RIL deal

Future Group chairman Kishore Biyani. Photo: Hemant Mishra/Mint

Future Group has decided to challenge the Delhi high court (HC) order directing detention of its founder Kishore Biyani and attachment of his assets, while restraining the debt-laden group from taking any step towards its proposed 24,713 crore asset sale deal with Mukesh Ambani-led Reliance Industries Ltd (RIL).

Two people familiar with Future Group’s legal plans confirmed this to Mint, adding that an appeal challenging the order may be filed on Monday or Tuesday.

 “An appeal challenging this order is inevitable. First, Delhi high court will be approached so that if any unfavourable judgement comes, the option of approaching the Supreme Court is kept available,” one of the two people cited above said on condition of anonymity.

“Future Group feels that the Delhi HC seems to have gone beyond its scope by passing certain orders that were never a part of the prayer or any appeal filed by Amazon or any other party. Imposing monetary penalty for allegedly breaching an arbitration order; ordering attachment of assets and urging detention of Biyani are additional areas that have been entered by the single-judge bench without any such prayer by the appellant before the Delhi HC,” the first person said.

“These arguments will form the main part of the appeal when the single bench order is challenged by Future Group next week,” this person added.

In an exchange filing on Friday, Future Retail Ltd (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.

“The Supreme Court has not vacated the stay granted by the division bench (which is still in operation). The Supreme Court has directed that, in the meantime, the NCLT proceedings will be allowed to go on but will not culminate in any final order of sanction of scheme. We are advised that this (Delhi HC) order does not come in the way of the continuance of the ongoing NCLT proceedings, being inconsistent with the order dated 22 February 2021 of the top court,” it added.

Emails sent to spokespeople for Future Group and Amazon India remained unanswered till the time of going to press.

On Thursday, following an appeal by US-based Amazon.com NV Investment Holdings Llc against Future Group, a single-judge bench of the Delhi HC ordered FRL not to take any further step towards its controversial deal with RIL while holding that FRL has “wilfully violated Singapore International Arbitration Centre’s emergency order” with regards to the deal.

The HC has ordered an attachment of all properties of Biyani and others related to Future Group. It also ordered that a showcause notice be served on Future Group, questioning as to why they (Biyani and Future Group’s directors) be not detained for three months under civil prison for violating SIAC’s emergency arbitrator’s order.

The court has also penalized Future Group, and directed the group and its directors to deposit 20 lakh in Prime Minister’s Relief Fund for providing covid-19 vaccines to senior citizens of Below Poverty Line category.

“Future Group is likely to challenge the additional punishments imposed by the high court on Thursday, asking for a stay on the order passed by the single bench,” said the first person.

The single-judge bench of Justice J.R. Midha, 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, in an emergency arbitration award, restrained FRL from going ahead with the deal with Ambani’s firms. This followed an appeal by Amazon.

This article was first published on livemint.com.

Singapore Reporter/s

In Singapore, we are looking to double our reporting team by this year-end to comprehensively cover the fast-moving world of funded startups and VC, PE & M&A deals. We want reporters who can tell our readers what is really happening in these sectors and why it matters to markets, companies and consumers. The ability to write precisely and urgently is crucial for these roles. Ideal candidates must have to ability to work in a collaborative, dynamic, and fast-changing environment. We want our new hires to be digitally savvy and ready to experiment with new forms of storytelling. Most importantly, we are looking for hard-hitting reporters who work well in a team. Collaboration and collegiality are a must.

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).   

  • A reporter to track companies/startups that have raised private capital, and have the potential to become unicorns. SEA currently has over 40 companies with a valuation of over $100 million and under $1 billion.
  • A reporter who can get behind the scenes and reveal how funding rounds are put together, or why they’ve failed to materialise. She/he in this role will largely focus on long-format stories. 
  • A journalist to track special situations funds, distressed debt and private credit (from the PE angle) across Asia.

Singapore Reporter/s

In Singapore, we are looking to double our reporting team by this year-end to comprehensively cover the fast-moving world of funded startups and VC, PE & M&A deals. We want reporters who can tell our readers what is really happening in these sectors and why it matters to markets, companies and consumers. The ability to write precisely and urgently is crucial for these roles. Ideal candidates must have to ability to work in a collaborative, dynamic, and fast-changing environment. We want our new hires to be digitally savvy and ready to experiment with new forms of storytelling. Most importantly, we are looking for hard-hitting reporters who work well in a team. Collaboration and collegiality are a must.

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).   

  • A reporter to track companies/startups that have raised private capital, and have the potential to become unicorns. SEA currently has over 40 companies with a valuation of over $100 million and under $1 billion.
  • A reporter who can get behind the scenes and reveal how funding rounds are put together, or why they’ve failed to materialise. She/he in this role will largely focus on long-format stories. 
  • A journalist to track special situations funds, distressed debt and private credit (from the PE angle) across Asia.