The Supreme Court declined to entertain Google’s plea challenging the National Company Law Appellate Tribunal’s (NCLAT) order on the operation of the Competition Commission of India’s (CCI) order imposing a fine of Rs 1337.76 crore on the tech giant. Refused to stop. A bench headed by Chief Justice DY Chandrachud and Justices PS Narasimha and JB Pardiwala said the findings of the CCI cannot be said to be without jurisdiction or with manifest error and set aside the NCLAT order refusing interim relief to Google Confirmed. The bench directed the NCLAT to dispose of Google’s appeal by March 31 and gave Google seven days to deposit 10 per cent of the penalty imposed by the CCI.
Additional Solicitor General representing CCI N. Venkataraman argued that Google Play Services which are so important to OEMs cannot be freely downloaded by users and pre-installation creates a behavioral bias, which is used by Google for marketing. All these findings result in a statutory violation and lead to lack of bargaining power in OEMs and deprive consumers of choice, he said.
During the hearing, Chief Justice Chandrachud told senior advocate AM Singhvi, representing Google: “Dr Singhvi, whatever you have given us in terms of data is actually against your logic.”
“What kind of authority do you see in terms of dominance… The data indicates 15,000 Android models, 500 million compatible devices, 1500 OEMs. When you have that kind of penetration in the market, you insist I have my bouquet, you are directly affecting..what the OEM does, the end consumer is impacted,” the CJI said.
Singhvi submitted: “I am one of the players in this ecosystem, and people choose Google Play Store because of its excellence and not dominance.”
He said that suppose there was no Android then would this revolution in telephony have taken place. Singhvi further argued that in Korea, there is a different user base and asserted that Google is there because of excellence and not dominance. “Where it’s voluntary, non-imposed. It’s free, not exclusive, what else can you do,” he said.
On January 11, the Supreme Court agreed to examine an appeal by Google against an NCLAT order refusing to stay a fine of Rs 1,337.76 crore imposed on it by the CCI for alleged anti-competitive practices .
Google moved the apex court after a setback in the NCLAT, which did not stay the CCI order on abuse of dominant position in multiple markets in the Android mobile device ecosystem case. Earlier this month, the NCLAT found no urgency to pass an interim order, noting that Google had filed an appeal in December last year, though the CCI had passed the order in October. It directed Google to deposit 10 per cent of the fine amount.
The tribunal had said that since no haste was shown in filing the appeal, Google cannot be allowed to press for interim relief. In October last year, the CCI had imposed a penalty of Rs 1,337.76 crore on the company for abusing its dominant position in multiple markets with respect to Android mobile devices.
The CCI also imposed a fine of Rs 936.44 crore on the company for abusing its dominant position with respect to its Play Store policies.
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