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Delhi HC directs CCI to quickly decide on notice to Amazon

Delhi high court on Tuesday directed the Competition Commission of India (CCI) to expeditiously decide on its show-cause notice to Amazon on the revocation of approval given to the US-based company for the investment transaction with Future Coupons Pvt. Ltd (FCPL), which has been challenged by Future Group.

The decision should be taken in accordance with rules, law and government policy applicable to the facts of the case and adequate opportunity should be given to the parties to be heard, said a bench of Chief Justice D.N. Patel and Justice Jyoti Singh.

The court said it was not inclined to decide this issue and disposed of the petition by the Confederation of All India Traders (CAIT).

The petition sought to protect the interests of about 6,000 traders who had supplied goods worth `10,000 crore to the Future Group and to recover the money from the group. On Tuesday, CAIT, represented by senior advocate Saurabh Kirpal, also sought to put an end to the alleged anti-competitive activities of Amazon.com NV Investment Holdings LLC and its group companies operating in India, which already have had a disastrous effect on crores of small traders.

Amazon has obtained the approval of CCI for its investment in FCPL in 2019 by deceit, fraud, misrepresentation, and false representation, the petition alleged.

Traders should not be made scapegoats or suffer any financial loss in fights among corporate giants such as Amazon and the Future Group, CAIT has said.

Amazon and Future have been locked in a bitter legal tussle after the US-based e-commerce giant dragged Future Group to arbitration at the Singapore International Arbitration Centre (SIAC) in October last year, arguing that Future Retail Ltd (FRL) had violated a contract by entering into the more than `24,713 crore merger deal with rival Reliance Retail.

Amazon’s claim of control over FRL through its investment in FCPL is illegal as no foreign company is allowed to own or control a multi-brand retail company such as FRL, CAIT contended.

The plea by CAIT has said that if such misrepresentations are allowed to continue, every company would misrepresent the facts of transactions just to seek CCI’s approval and subsequently carry out a different transaction camouflaged as a transaction approved by CCI.

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