In a significant setback to how Google Llc does business in India, the Supreme Court has denied the tech major any relief against the competition regulator’s directions.
The case has been sent back to the National Company Law Appellate Tribunal for consideration on merits.
Pronouncing the order on Thursday, the apex court said it was in agreement with the NCLAT decision of denying interim relief to Google.
“An expression of opinion by this court on the merits of the case will affect the proceedings, which are pending before the NCLAT,” the top court said.
Sending the case back to the NCLAT, Chief Justice of India DY Chandrachud requested the tribunal to dispose of the appeal by March 31.
The court said that the findings of the Competition Commission of India cannot be said to be without jurisdiction or manifest error at the interlocutory stage.
“Since the appellants have been pursuing their interlocutory remedies before the NCLAT and, later, before this court, time for compliance of the order passed by the CCI is extended by a further period of a week from Thursday.”
The apex court heard arguments from Google, the CCI and several interveners.
‘If People Choose Google, That’s Not Choosing Dominance’
Arguing for Google, senior advocate Abhishek Singhvi said most of the offending directions put forth by the CCI had been given without any finding of abuse of dominant position.
“The impugned order is a series of non-reasons,” Singhvi said.
Comparing Google’s Android mobile ecosystem with Apple, he said there are 15,000 Android models, 1,500 hardware manufacturers of these smartphones, and 500 million compatible devices in India.
The entry-level smartphones are also as cheap as Rs 1,400 in the market. This is the Android revolution. The Android mobile ecosystem helps the average consumer, according to Singhvi. Bloomberg