Flipkart and Amazon have challenged the ruling given by the Karnataka High Court last week, which had granted permission to the Competition Commission of India (CCI) to re-launch the probe into the companies’ alleged anti-competitive behavior.
The ruling had been given on June 12, wherein the state’s High Court had dismissed the writing petition filed by Flipkart and Amazon (which, by the way, has also reportedly challenged the decision) which sought to prevent the CCI from continuing its probe further.
Sonam Chandwani, Managing Partner at KS Legals and Associates, shed light on the issue, saying, “The dismissal of pleas by Amazon and Flipkart against CCI probe was a welcome ruling by Karnataka’s HC, however the same has been challenged by Flipkart with Amazon tagging along. It is common knowledge that foreign e-commerce giants have been taking India as a banana republic where the laws bear no prominence and indulged in blatant manipulation. While both companies have categorically denied any wrongdoing, their breach of laws has caused damage to the small traders’ community in India and therefore the giants’ challenge to ward off CCI’s probe into alleged violations of competition law seems to be an attempt to mislead ED’s investigation without robust substantiation.”
The probe had been put in action around 18 months ago last year, when CCI had received a complaint on behalf of the Delhi Vyapar Mahasangh (MVK), a conglomerate of small and medium-scale businesses in New Delhi, which had accused the online retail platforms of giving preferential treatment to certain sellers, while harming other businesses. The petition had also highlighted anti-competitive practices and predatory pricing on the part of Flipkart and Amazon, and had been filed under Section 3 and 4 of the Competition Act.
The investigation had been put on hold back in February last year, following a writer petition by the industry giants.
As for the new petition filed by Flipkart and supported by Amazon, the Confederation of All India Traders (CAIT) is all set to contest it in court. This comes following a statement by Praveen Khandelwal, Secretary General at CAIT, who said, “Undoubtedly we are going to contest it. We are just waiting for the copy of the petition. We will go through the contents to see on what grounds have they filed it.”
The petition is likely to be heard by a two-judge panel this week, even as the CCI plans to accelerate the probe while also fully scrutinizing the big players, a report by Reuters says.
The petition was filed by Flipkart’s counsel, and reads, “Irreparable injury will be caused to the appellant if the investigation was to continue pending the present appeal. This is a fit case of grant of interim relief and stay on the impugned order, given that there has been a stay on the CCI order since 16 months and no prejudice will be caused if the investigation continues to remain stayed.”