Supreme Court on Monday fixed October 11 as the hearing date in the crucial Amazon appeal filed against the June 13 National Company Law Appellate Tribunal (NCLAT) order. This Appellate Tribunal had in June this year upheld the CCI’s decision to suspend approval for the investment deal between the e-commerce major and the Future group firm (Future Coupons) dating back to 2019.

On Monday, the SC Bench of Justice Dinesh Maheshwari and Justice Bela M Trivedi took note of the submissions filed by every party. Since all of them need to be heard, the matter was relisted on October 11, 2022.

On June 13 this year, NCLAT had upheld the CCI order of December 2021 and directed Amazon to deposit the penalty of ₹200 crore (imposed by CCI) within 45 days.

Meanwhile, the Competition law experts pointed out that the 45 days window specified by NCLAT is now over. Since there is no stay in the matter, the CCI is entitled to initiate recovery proceedings on the ₹200 crore penalty imposed by CCI in December 2021, they said. Till date, the CCI has not taken steps to initiate penalty recovery in this case, sources said.

It maybe recalled that a Supreme Court Bench comprising Justice Dinesh Maheshwari and Justice MM Sundresh had on September 5 heard the Amazon plea and issued notice to CCI and other parties (Future Coupons and Confederation of All India Traders). Further, the Bench had directed all parties to file short notes of submissions and thereafter listed the matter on September 19.

This case is significant as its outcome will determine the winner in the ongoing fight for control of the organised Indian retail market, economy watchers said.

The competition watchdog CCI had in December 2021 kept its earlier approval for the investment deal between Amazon and Future Coupons, a Future Group firm,  in “abeyance” after it found that Amazon did not make full and necessary disclosure about its strategic interest in its deal with Future group’s Future Coupons Pvt Ltd (FCPL). 

The CCI had also imposed a ₹200 crore penalty on Amazon for allegedly misrepresenting and suppressing information while seeking regulatory approval in 2019 to buy a stake in Future Coupons. The competition watchdog, while imposing a penalty, held that there was a non-disclosure of Amazon’s intention and interest in Future group’s retail business under its public-listed company Future Retail Ltd (FRL). 

In 2019, Amazon had invested ₹1,400 crore in Future Coupons for a 49 per cent stake. This stake buy had opened the doors for the American e-commerce giant to a 7.3 per cent stake in Future Retail.