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Delhi HC reserves order on plea by start-ups against Google’s payment policy

The Delhi High Court on Wednesday said it will pass an order on a petition by Alliance of Digital India Foundation (ADIF) against Google’s policy in relation to permitting the use of third party payment processors for paid app downloads and in-app purchases on a commission basis.

Justice Tushar Rao Gedela reserved order on the petition after hearing the counsel for the petitioner, which is an alliance of individuals and an industry representative body of the innovative start-ups in the country, the Competition Commission of India (CCI) and Google.

“Arguments heard. Order is reserved,” said the judge.

The petitioner submitted that under its ‘User Choice Billing’ policy, which is slated to come into force from April 26, Google will be charging service fee at 11% or 26% in case of third party payment processors, which is anti-competitive and an attempt to bypass an order passed by the Competition Commission of India.

The petitioner, which moved the court earlier this month, said the US technology giant operates a mobile application marketplace for android devices called ‘Play Store’ which enjoys supreme dominance in that market and under the present framework, there is no requirement to pay any commission for third party payment processors.

The court was informed that in October last year, the CCI, while imposing a penalty of Rs 936 crore, asked Google to allow and not restrict app developers from using any third-party billing services and to not impose any discriminatory condition.

The petitioner said its grievance was that the CCI has failed to act on its plea in relation to the policy owing to lack of quorum to consider the issue.

It contended that the CCI must invoke the “doctrine of necessity” and look into the matter in spite of a lack of quorum as a refusal to intervene will cause irreversible harm to the petitioners and other app developers and lead to distortion in the market.

The implementation of the policy, in the meantime, must be kept in abeyance till the matter is looked into by the anti-trust regulator, the petitioner prayed.

Additional Solicitor General N Venkataraman said the process of appointment of CCI member was underway.

The counsel for Google opposed the petition on several grounds and claimed there was no material to justisy invocation of the “doctrine of necessity”. PTI

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