A two-member bench consisting of chairperson justice (retd.) Ashok Bhushan and Dr. Alok Srivastava was hearing the case for more than a month
Google in its plea claimed that CCI failed to conduct an “impartial, balanced, and legally sound investigation”
The CCI also said last week that the US-based tech major has created a digital data hegemony
The National Company Law Appellate Tribunal (NCLAT) on Monday, reportedly reserved judgment in Google’s appeal against the Competition Commission of India (CCI) order as it concluded the hearing that started last month.
A two-member bench consisting of chairperson justice (retd.) Ashok Bhushan and Dr. Alok Srivastava was hearing the case for more than a month.
In its order, CCI said that Google abused its dominant position in the Android ecosystem and imposed an INR 1,337.76 Cr penalty for anti-competitive practices, which was challenged by the tech giant before NCLAT.
NCLAT heard arguments from senior counsels Arun Kathpalia and Maninder Singh who appeared for Google. On the other hand, the CCI was represented by additional solicitor general N Venkataraman and standing counsel Samar Bhansal.
The NCLAT Bench also allowed the intervenors, Epic Games, MapMyIndia and OSlabs Technology, to make their respective submissions.
Google in its plea claimed that CCI failed to conduct an “impartial, balanced, and legally sound investigation” while ignoring evidence from Indian users, app developers, and OEMs.
Moreover, the tech major also contended that findings from the investigation were “patently erroneous and ignore” the reality of competition in India, Google’s pro-competitive business model, and the benefits created for all stakeholders.
During the hearing, Google also argued that CCI’s order suffers from confirmation bias and is based on a similar order from the European Commission (EC) in 2018.
The CCI also said last week that the US-based tech major has created a digital data hegemony. Arguing for the competition watchdog, additional solicitor general Venkataraman made the comments while concluding his remarks before the NCLAT.
He also termed Google’s strategy as ‘moat and castle’-based and said that the tech major used its search engine as the ‘castle’ while forcing the rest of the apps to play the defensive role of a moat.
ASG Venkataraman said a market with greater freedom for all players would be more in tune with principles of free competition in contrast to the ‘walled garden’ approach of Google.
Last year, the competition watchdog fined Google INR 1,337.7 Cr in the Android devices case. The CCI also levied a fine of INR 936 Cr on the tech giant in a separate case related to its Play Store policies.
Following the judgment, Google challenged the antitrust order in the NCLAT in January but did not receive any immediate relief. Afterwards, the company moved the Supreme Court against the Tribunal’s decision. The apex court also rejected its plea and directed the NCLAT to take a call on the matter.