The National Company Law Appellate Tribunal on Wednesday refused to put an interim stay on Competition Commission of India’s Rs 1,337.76-crore penalty on Google, reported Bar and Bench.
The tribunal also directed the technology company to deposit 10% of the penalty amount before the next hearing on the plea on February 13.
In October, the Competition Commission of India had imposed the penalty on Google for “abusing its dominant position” in multiple markets in the Android mobile device ecosystem. Android is an operating system that runs applications and programs on smartphones. It was acquired by Google in 2005.
The competition regulator had ordered an inquiry against Google in 2019 after it received complaints from consumers regarding its Android smartphone agreements.
On Wednesday, Senior Counsel Abhishek Manu Singhvi, appearing for Google, argued that the competition regulator order is a “copy-paste” of a 2018 European Commission order that had imposed a fine of 4.1 billion euros (over Rs 35,963 crore) on Google for allegedly imposing unlawful restrictions on Android mobile device makers.
“By this order they are changing the status that has existed since 2005 [when Google acquired Android],” he said.
The law tribunal, however, said that there is no urgency for passing an interim order to stay the penalty.
“Even before we give an interim order, we need to understand the matter and go through the records,” it said. “How do you expect us to pass the order after hearing you for half an hour?”
The commission had said that it found that pre-installation of the entire Google Mobile Suite – a collection of Google applications – was mandatory in Android smartphones and users had no option to uninstall it.
“Their [the applications] prominent placement amounts to imposition of unfair condition on the device manufacturers and thereby contravenes competition law,” the antitrust body had said.
It said that the most prominent search entry points in smartphones such as the search apps, widgets and web browser Chrome – also developed by Google – are pre-installed on Android devices that gives the technology company a significant competitive edge over its competitors.
A day later, Google had said that the commission’s decision was a “major setback for consumers and businesses” in the country.