In a setback to Google, the National Company Law Appellate Tribunal (NCLAT) on Wednesday declined to grant interim relief to the tech giant seeking a stay on competition watchdog CCI's Rs 936.44-crore penalty on it for abuse of dominant position with respect to its Play Store policies. The appellate tribunal has directed Google to deposit 10 per cent of the fine before its registry in the next four weeks.
A two-member bench comprising Justice Rakesh Kumar and Alok Srivastava issued notices to the Competition Commission of India (CCI) and other respondents and posted the matter for hearing on April 17, 2023.
Meanwhile, the Supreme Court on Wednesday agreed to hear a plea of Google against a recent order of NCLAT refusing an interim stay on Rs 1,337 crore fine imposed by CCI on the company for anti-competitive practices in relation to Android mobile devices.
A bench comprising Chief Justice DY Chandrachud and Justice P S Narasimha took note of the submissions of senior advocate A M Singhvi, appearing for the US firm, and said that it will list the plea for hearing on Monday.
The senior lawyer said that extraordinary directions have been passed by the CCI and the order has to be complied by January 19. A mail sent to Google for comments did not elicit a response.
Last week, the NCLAT had declined to stay a CCI order, in which it had slapped a penalty of Rs 1,337.76 crore on Google in the Android mobile devices case. The NCLAT had also directed Google to deposit 10 per cent of the penalty amount within three weeks.
It is pertinent to mention here that back in October, Google was fined over Rs 2,200 crore in two CCI rulings (matters pertained to Play Store policies and Android mobile devices ecosystem) less than a week apart, dealing a blow to the tech titan in one of the most promising digital markets globally.
On October 25, CCI had imposed a penalty of Rs 936.44 crore on Google for abusing its dominant position with respect to its Play Store policies. The regulator had also directed the company to cease and desist from unfair business practices as well as carry out various measures to address the anti-competitive issues within a defined timeline.
Google had subsequently said it is "pausing" enforcement of the requirement for developers to use Play Store's billing system for the purchase of digital goods and services for transactions by users in India while it reviews legal options, in the aftermath of the recent ruling by the CCI.
"Following the CCI's recent ruling, we are pausing enforcement of the requirement for developers to use Google Play's billing system for the purchase of digital goods and services for transactions by users in India while we review our legal options and ensure we can continue to invest in Android and Play," Google said in an update on help centre page on November 1.
The search engine giant has faced criticism globally for mandating software developers using its app store to only use its proprietary in-app payment system that charges a commission of up to 30 per cent on purchases made within an app.
Google is also facing a separate probe into its business conduct in the news content and Smart TV market in India.
Following the landmark rulings by CCI, Google filed appeals before the NCLAT against the two orders.