SC Agrees To Hear Startups’ Pleas

The Supreme Court on Friday (February 9) agreed to hear pleas by a host of startups challenging Alphabet Inc’s Google billing policy.

However, a bench of judges led by Chief Justice of India DY Chandrachud refused to pass an interim order in favour of these startups to protect them from being removed from the Google Play Store. 

Senior advocates Mukul Rohatgi and Balbir Singh who appeared for the startups urged the court to protect them from being delisted from Play Store till the disposal of the appeal, on the ground that they are small entities, Moneycontrol reported.

However, as the startups lost before the single judge and the division bench, the chief justice refused to give any such interim order.

This comes days after the Madras High Court dismissed the appeals of startups against the tech giant for its in-app payment billing policy. 

However, back then, the court had also asked Google to not delist some of these companies from the Play Store for at least three weeks. This was the second such dismissal by the Madras HC since August 2023, after it dismissed 14 out of 16 pleas filed by the homegrown startups against the tech giant. 

A bench of Chief Justice SV Gangapurwala and Justice PD Audikesavulu also said that the startups would be entitled to appear before the SC on the issue. 

The debate over the billing system of Google emerged after the tech giant reduced its commission to 11-26% following CII’s intervention over the former commission range of 15-30%, for apps requiring in-app purchases. 

Earlier, addressing Google’s new billing policy, People Group’s founder and CEO Anupam Mittal termed the tech major ‘Digital East India Company’. In addition, he also compared Google’s billing policy with that of lagaan (tax) imposed by the British rulers on the Indian farmers during the colonial era.

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