MCA India to Review CCI Performance Amidst Rising Concerns of Regulatory Inaction

MCA India to Review CCI Performance Amidst Rising Concerns of Regulatory Inaction
Photo: unsplash.com 13.02.2024 563

The review was announced after Indian developers complained about the antitrust authority's delay in ruling on cases against the digital giants.

India's Ministry of Corporate Affairs has decided to review the Competition Commission of India's performance, as homegrown startups express frustration over the lack of action against tech giants like Google, accused of anti-competitive practices. Startups and traders urge for regulatory reforms to create a level playing field. 

Minister of Finance and Minister of Corporate Affairs Nirmala Sitharaman is expected to question the CCI in February over delays in probes and disposing complaints. The outcome of this review will have significant implications for India's digital economy.

Indian startups and developers have supported MCA's initiative.

“Our nation's digital future hinges on the delicate balance between empowering innovators and preventing the undue dominance of a select few tech giants,” 

said industry body Alliance of Digital India Foundation (ADIF), in a statement.

A number of cases against tech giants, namely Google, Meta (banned and designated as extremist in Russia), Amazon, Flipkart, WhatsApp, Zomato and Swiggy, have been  pending with the regulator for years. 

A recent plea filed by startups before the Supreme Court challenging a ruling of the Madras High Court re-directing their challenge to tech giant Google’s User Choice Billing (UCB) to CCI has cast serious insinuation on the ability of CCI to effectively intervene against Big Tech and deliver justice. They have accused the regulator of “non-adjudication” in the disposal of their applications challenging UCB and complaints alleging non-compliance by tech giant of CCI’s previous ruling directing Google to allow third-party billing services providers on Play Store. 

The top court bench, however, refused to issue any interim orders to protect the petitioners from potentially being delisted from Google's Play Store.

The Confederation of All India Traders (CAIT) has also urged the CCI to prioritize the long-running Delhi Vyapar Mahasangh case against Flipkart and Amazon, accusing them of monopolizing mobile phone sales and engaging in anti-competitive practices. 

Meanwhile, as many as 20 matters are awaiting orders from the CCI, unidentified sources told the Financial Express. The antitrust case filed by news publishers against Googlehas been pending  before the watchdog for more than two years even though CCI directed its investigation arm (Director General) in January 2022 to wrap up investigations within two months, as per the prima facie order available on its website.

As reported in the Indian media, other pending cases of the Commission are tied to industries including cement, pharmaceuticals, railways, and technology.

Additionally, the CCI has been facing roadblocks even after passing orders as companies file challenges against the regulatory decisions in courts and the competition tribunal.

Moreover, the competition watchdog is also yet to notify even a single set of regulations which are required to operationalize the amendments introduced through the Competition Amendment Act, 2023 which received the assent of the President in April last year.

Sources: The Hindu Business Line, Business Standard, BNN

digital markets  India 

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