Matter of national importance, the world is watching, CCI tells SC

The Competition Commission of India (CCI) declared to the Supreme Court on Wednesday the matter relating to the alleged abuse of dominant position by Google in several markets of the Android mobile device ecosystem is of “national importance” and the world is watching how India handles the issue.

A bench consisting of Chief Justice DY Chandrachud and Justices Krishna Murari and PS Narasimha was told by Additional Solicitor General N Venkataraman, appearing for the TCC, that the higher court should hear the matter and that Google would not be awarded “two rounds to the National Company Appellate Tribunal Act (NCLAT).

The bench said they agreed there couldn’t be two innings for anyone and the case would go to court on Thursday.

Android is a popular open-source mobile operating system installed by original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) of smartphones and tablets.

The top court was hearing a plea from the US tech giant against an NCLAT order refusing an interim stay from the competition regulator imposing a fine of Rs 1,337 crore on it.

The bench initially said it was considering sending the case back to NCLAT, observing that the court had not considered all aspects of the interim stay request and that it would be appropriate for the court to consider it.

“What we’re suggesting is that the NCLAT hasn’t really looked at their (Google’s) request for a provisional suspension. They say they’ll list it in April. Now we have to look at it. We can ask It’s up to the NCLAT to look at it. If we have to look at it, then it should be like an appeal. It’s an interlocutory order.

The bench suggested it would ask Google to appear before the NCLAT and ask the court to hear the matter on January 23.

“We will ask them (Google) not to request an adjournment and until then we will order that no enforcement action be taken for two weeks, or we will simply rescind the NCLAT order and order it to consider again on Monday. Then we won’t have to pass an interim order,” he said.

Venkataraman said there can’t be “two rounds” in NCLAT. “This is a matter of national importance and the world is watching. Our request is that this court listen to us and decide the matter.”

Lead attorney AM Singhvi, representing Google, said he agreed with ASG’s suggestion and that both sides wanted the court to hear and settle the matter once and for all.

The bench said: ‘So we’ll get to that tomorrow at 11.30am or when you’re all here, whichever comes first’.


cease and desist

On January 16, the High Court had asked Google, which is embroiled in a legal battle over the Rs 1,337.76 crore fine, whether it would follow the same regime in India as in Europe in this which concerns the applications preinstalled in Android. mobile smartphones.

She had asked the American firm to clarify this aspect during the next hearing of the case.

The high court’s remark came after Venkataraman said Google had complied with a similar order passed by the European Commission and alleged the company was discriminating against Indian consumers.

Google had said compliance in Europe relates to the standard unbundling of Google’s “Mobile Application Distribution Agreement” (MADA).

The NCLAT had on January 4 denied an interim stay on an order from the competition regulator and asked Google to deposit 10% of the penalty amount.

NCLAT admitted the search giant’s challenge to the ICC to hit the heavy penalty.

Singhvi had earlier mentioned the matter asking for an urgent hearing.

The lead attorney said extraordinary instructions had been adopted by the ICC and the order must be complied with by January 19.

The CCI had asked Google on October 20 to allow users of smartphones on the Android platform to uninstall applications and let them select a search engine of their choice. This order is due to come into effect on January 19.

On October 20 last year, the ICC, in addition to imposing a heavy penalty on Google, also ordered the major internet company to cease and desist from various unfair business practices.

The regulator, who passed the order after commissioning a detailed investigation more than three years ago, also ordered Google to change its conduct within a set time frame.

The CCI, which began investigating the case in April 2019, ordered that OEMs should not be prevented from choosing among Google’s first-party apps to pre-install, nor should they be forced to pre-install a bunch of apps. apps on their smart devices. .