‘Will same steps taken in Europe be followed in India?’: SC on Google’s plea against NCLAT order

New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Monday said it will hear the plea by US tech-giant Google’s challenging the order of the National Company Law Appellate Tribunal (NCLAT) refusing an interim stay on Rs 1337-crore penalty imposed on it for the alleged anti-competitive practices in relation to Android mobile devices, on January 18.

A three-bench judge led by Chief Justice DY Chandrachud and Justices PS Narasimha and J B Pardiwala, asked senior advocate AM Singhvi, representing Google, to clarify on Wednesday if Google will deploy the same standards taken by it in European Union, as regards pre-installed apps in Android-based in mobile phones, in India.
“Please reflect on this and come back. We will hear this case on Wednesday,” the SC bench said while listing the hearing on January 18.

Senior advocate Singhvi had earlier mentioned the matter before the bench while urging for an early listing. The senior lawyer said that extraordinary directions have been passed by the CCI and the order has to be complied with by January 19 otherwise the matter will be infructuous.
The CCI had imposed Rs 1,338-crore penalty on Google for unfair and anti-competitive practices in relation to Android phones and for abusing its dominant position in multiple markets.

On January 4, the NCLAT refused to stay the CCI’s order and asked Google to deposit 10% of the penalty amount.

One of the main grounds for the refusal of stay by NCLAT is that though the CCI had passed the order on October 20 last year, Google approached the tribunal after two months on December 20.

In October 2022, the CCI asked Google to permit smartphone users on the Android platform to uninstall pre-installed apps such as Google Chrome and Youtube and allow them to select a search engine and apps of their choice.

Google was directed to modify its conduct by January 19.
On December 19 last year, Google CEO Sundar Pichai speaking at the Google for India event emphasised the importance of an open and fair internet if India aspires to be an export-based economy. He stressed the importance of “responsible regulations” and an “innovative framework” for the development of technology in the country.

Sunil Kumar Dhangadamajhi

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