Sunday, June 4, 2023

NCLAT directs Google to deposit fine imposed by CCI before hearing begins on relief plea

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The National Company Law Appellate Tribunal (NCLAT) has directed Google to deposit 10 percent of Rs.1337.76 as fine imposed on it by the Competition Commission of India (CCI) before the hearing begins in the matter.

In October 2022, penalty was imposed on Google by CCI for abusing its strong position in multiple markets in the Android mobile device ecosystem.

NCLAT was approached by Google against the order.

A bench comprising of Justice Rakesh Kumar, member (judicial) and member (technical) of NCLAT Dr Alok Srivastava, have refused to to pass any interim order on Thursday but have assured that on February 13, the plea for interim relief and stay on the CCI order will be heard.

The NCLAT has directed that the appellant is directed to deposit 10% of the fine amount with the Registrar NCLAT as interim measure. Court to hear the application for interim relief and stay on the CCI order on February 13.

Senior Counsel Abhishek Manu Singhvi, who appeared for Google said that the CCI order is a copy paste of 2018 European Commission order which had fined Google 4.1 billion euros for allegedly imposing unlawful restrictions on Android mobile device makers.

The NCLAT believes that there is no urgency to immediately pass an interim order as the CCI order is from October last year.

The NCLAT said that they need to understand the matter and go through the records, and should not be expected to pass the order after hearing party for half an hour

The matter for has been put for consideration on February 13.

Apart from imposing a monetary penalty, the CCI had also directed Google to cease and desist from participating in anti-competitive practices and directed it to modify its conduct within a defined timeline.

Various practices of Google were examined by the Commission in relation to licensing of the Android mobile operating system and several of its mobile applications such as the Play Store, Google Search, Google Chrome, YouTube etc.

The Commission has found Google to be dominant in all the relevant markets.

The competition watchdog said that the underlying objective of Google in imposing various restrictions the agreements was to protect and strengthen its dominant position in general search services, and thus, its revenues via search advertisements, the Commission concluded.

The google said that by the virtue of the agreements discussed above, Google ensured that users continue to use its search services on mobile devices which facilitated un-interrupted growth of advertisement revenue for Google.

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