Before hearing Google's appeal of the Competition Commission of India's (CCI) judgement, the National Company Law Appellate Tribunal (NCLAT) on Wednesday ordered the tech giant to deposit 10% of the fine sum of 1337.76 crores INR.
In October 2022, the CCI fined Google for abusing its dominant position in several markets within the ecosystem for Android mobile devices. Then Google filed an NCLAT appeal against the ruling.
Dr Alok Srivastava, a member of the technical division of the NCLAT, and Justice Rakesh Kumar, a member of the judicial division, declined to issue any interim orders on Thursday, but they did state that the appeal for temporary relief and a stay of the CCI order would be considered on February 13.
"As a temporary remedy, the appellant must deposit 10% of the fine amount with the Registrar NCLAT. On February 13, the court will hear the request for temporary relief and a stay of the CCI order "NCLAT instructed.
Speaking on behalf of Google, Senior Counsel Abhishek Manu Singhvi argued that the CCI order is a "copy-paste" of a 2018 European Commission ruling that penalised Google 4.1 billion euros for allegedly placing illegal limitations on manufacturers of Android mobile devices. "The order from the European Commission has just been copied and pasted. They are updating the status that has been in place since 2005 using this order. Over the previous 17 years, "Singhvi remarked.
However, the NCLAT stated that since the CCI ruling was issued in October of last year, there is no need to pass an interim order. How do you expect us to give the order after listening to you for half an hour, the NCLAT asked. "Even before we provide an interim injunction, we need to grasp the matter and look through the records." On February 13, it then published the subject for deliberation.
The CCI had also ordered Google to stop engaging in anti-competitive behaviour and to change its behaviour within a predetermined time in addition to imposing a financial penalty. Concerning the licencing of the Android mobile operating system and numerous of Google's mobile applications, including the Play Store, Google Search, Google Chrome, YouTube, etc., the Commission looked into many of Google's activities. The Commission determined Google to be dominant in all pertinent markets based on its evaluation.
According to the competition watchdog, Google's numerous agreements controlling the rights and obligations of original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) of intelligent devices pose a serious threat to the US tech giant. The Commission concluded that Google's primary goal in imposing the various restrictions in the agreements was to preserve and strengthen its monopoly in general search services and, consequently, its search advertising revenue.
It further stated that the markets should be permitted to compete based on merit and placed the burden of proof on the dominant actors to demonstrate that their actions do not impede this merit-based competition.