Amazon Prevails Over Reliance in India’s Supreme Court

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Tushar Pania, a Reliance spokesman, did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Within India’s legal circles, the judgment was seen as another sign of the independence of the country’s judiciary, which has been criticized in the past for eroding free speech.

India’s judiciary has long been seen as a pillar of the country’s vast but often unruly democracy. It has recently made a series of progressive rulings, including granting bail to activists arrested under stringent anti-sedition and terrorism laws, striking down a ban on consensual gay sex and upholding the right to privacy.

The battle between Amazon and Reliance Industries is far from over.

Future Group said in a stock exchange filing on Friday that it “intends to pursue all available avenues to conclude the deal” with Reliance. Future Group could appeal the Singapore arbitration court’s decision or file a review petition with India’s Supreme Court. Lawyers are reviewing the best course of action, said Swetank Jain, a spokesman for the company.

Amazon still faces a government antitrust watchdog’s inquiry into the deal with a unit of Future Group. Late last month, the Competition Commission of India issued a show-cause notice to Amazon, accusing the company of not being upfront about its interest in Future Retail when the agency signed off on the deal in 2019. (Amazon, a dominant force in e-commerce and other areas and holder of an enormous trove of customer data, is a target of antitrust scrutiny in the United States and Europe as well.)

The agency’s chairman, Ashok Kumar Gupta, did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Future Group’s supermarkets and other shops could serve as a base for building or expanding an e-commerce empire in India, a potentially lucrative prize. India’s online market is expected to be worth $85.5 billion by 2025, according to Forrester Research. Facebook, Walmart and others are also investing heavily in the country.

Sanjeev Kumar, a New Delhi-based analyst at Forrester Research, said Amazon’s push to enter India’s nascent retail market for groceries was aimed at fighting Flipkart, which is controlled by Walmart. The country’s retail market for groceries is expected to be worth $10 billion by 2025, he said.