Supreme Court surprises Google, does not ban Rs 1,338 crore fine

Global technology company Google was dealt a huge blow by the Supreme Court on Thursday. The court refused to suspend the approximately Rs 1338 crore penalty imposed on the company for using anti-competitive practices. The Competition Commission of India (CCI) imposed this sanction on Google for abusing its dominant position in the Android ecosystem. The company appealed against this to the National Company Law Appeals Tribunal (NCLAT). NCLAT refused to grant a provisional stay of this penalty. Following this, Google challenged the NCLAT order in the Supreme Court.

The Supreme Court has given the company one week to deposit 10 percent of the amount of the fine under the NCLAT order. A bench of Chief Justice DY Chandrachud and Justices PS Narasimha and JB Pardiwala have also called on the company to approach NCLAT within three working days seeking a decision on the company’s appeal against the order of the ICC. Additional Solicitor General N Venkataraman, appearing on behalf of CCI, told the Supreme Court that Google has upheld different standards in India and Europe. He said the company has complied with the similar order passed by the European Commission.

Google has warned to curb the growth of the Android ecosystem in the country due to the CCI order. In this order, the company was asked to change the way Android is marketed. In the petition filed in the Supreme Court, Google said it will have to change its existing contracts, bring in new license agreements, and change its current system with more than 1,100 device manufacturers and app developers. The company says that Android mobile platforms have been around for 15 years and it will be difficult for the company to make major changes to it.

In October last year, the ICC had imposed a fine of about 161 million dollars on Alphabet Inc, the US company that runs Google, for abusing its dominant position in the Android market. About 97 percent of smartphones in India run on Android, and this is a huge market for Google.

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