India’s NCLAT Concludes Hearing Of Google's Plea Against CCI

India’s NCLAT Concludes Hearing Of Google's Plea Against CCI
Photo: Shutterstock 21.03.2023 593

A two-member bench of the National Company Law Appellate Tribunal (NCLAT) was conducting the hearing on a day-to-day basis for over a month.

The NCLAT on Monday concluded its hearing over the petition filed by Google, in which the tech giant challenged the Competition Commission's order imposing a $162 million penalty for anti-competitive practices in relation to Android mobile devices.

"Heard Learned Counsel for the parties. Hearing is completed. Judgment Reserved," 

said the NCLAT bench.

The $162 million fine was imposed on Google by the Competition Commission of India (CCI) last October. The regulator had also ordered the internet major to cease and desist from various unfair business practices. 

This ruling was challenged before the National Company Law Appellate Tribunal (NCLAT), which is an appellate authority over the orders passed by the CCI. 

Google in its petition had contended the investigation done against it by CCI as "tainted", contending that the two informants on whose complaint the fair trade regulator has initiated the enquiry were working at the same office that was investigating the tech major.

According to Google's plea, CCI has failed to conduct an "impartial, balanced, and legally sound investigation" while ignoring evidence from Indian users, app developers, and OEMs.

Challenging the CCI order, Google said the findings are "patently erroneous and ignore" the reality of competition in India, Google's pro-competitive business model, and the benefits created for all stakeholders. 

CCI, during the course of hearing alleged that Google has created a digital data hegemony and called for a market space with "free, fair and open competition". 

A CCI spokesperson submitted that Google had used its money-spinning search engine as the 'castle' and the rest of the other apps to play the defensive role of 'moat'. This 'castle and moat' strategy is data hegemony, which means a big market player tends to get bigger and bigger while a small entrant struggles to attain a critical mass of users and user data.

According to the official, data capture and data deployment are getting exploited and monetised as advertisement revenues. When the choice is the guiding principle of the competition law, Google's hegemony reduces both choice and competition.

Source: Outlook India

digital markets  India 

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