Amazon India has filed a petition before the Supreme Court challenging the National Company Law Appellate Tribunal’s ruling that upheld the Competition Commission of India’s order suspending the US giant’s investment in Future Group.
This comes after the NCLAT on June 13 upheld the CCI order passed on 17 December pertaining to non-disclosures by the US giant. The appellate body also directed the company to deposit ₹200 crore as a penalty within 45 days.
In its petition, Amazon has opposed the same. “For the very first time since its inception, the Respondent Commission (CCI) imposed a disproportionate penalty of INR 200 Crores under Section 43A of the Competition Act, and penalty of INR 1 Crores each for violation of Section 44, and 45 of the Competition Act,” it said in its petition.
The antitrust watchdog had fined Amazon ₹200 crore for allegedly misrepresenting and suppressing information while seeking regulatory approval in 2019 to buy a stake in Future Coupons.
Amazon further added that it had made all efforts to have a clear stance on its investment in Future Coupons, and the tribunal had not taken coginigence of it before passing the order.
“In relying on these internal documents, the Respondent Commission, and the Hon’ble Tribunal erred in relying upon documents which were irrelevant to the filing. Two of the internal documents (dated May 24, 2019 and July 10, 2019) pertain to a different investment structure which was not ultimately undertaken. The only internal document which was relevant was an internal email dated July 19, 2019, the contents of which stood sufficiently disclosed in the notification (as demonstrated before both the Hon’ble Tribunal as well as the Respondent Commission),” it added.
In 2019, Amazon had invested ₹1,400 crore in Future Coupons for a 49 per cent stake, by virtue of which the US company got a 7.3 per cent foothold in Future Retail.
Soon after the investment, Future Retail fell prey to the mayhem caused by the Covid-19 pandemic. This led the promoters to pledge more shares as its stock prices took a hit. Along with this, its retail business, too, took a hit.
Eventually, in August 2020, it decided to sell its wholesale and retail business to Reliance Retail for ₹24,713 crore. This led Amazon to drag Future Group into arbitration, where it was granted an interim award in its favour. It later moved Indian courts to stall its ₹24,713-crore deal with Reliance. The same was challenged by Future Group, while it was facing a severe cash crunch.