The Karnataka High Court on Tuesday temporarily restrained the Competition Commission of India (CCI) from divulging confidential information of Google India Pvt Ltd to the complainant Alliance Of Digital India Foundation till May 25.
This is in light of the fact that CCI is currently probing if Google employs anti-competitive measures to require developers distributing their apps through Play Store to use Google Play's billing system and to pay 15-30% on the sale of digital goods as a service fee. CCI had reportedly found the tech giant guilty of adopting anti-competitive, unfair and restrictive trade practices in the mobile operating system and related markets.
A vacation bench of Justice S Sunil Dutt Yadav said:
"After hearing the parties briefly It would be appropriate to ensure that confidential information is not shared with respondent no 2 and is directed to be subject to further consideration. The Commission to stay its hand as regards to subsequent further representation made by the petitioners relating to the same aspect. List the matter on May 25."
It added, "It is further clarified that petitioner is required to adhere to timeliness as regards proceedings pending before the Competition Commission of India."
The company has approached the court after an order was passed by the Commission dated April 18, allowing the company's confidential information to be shared with the respondent 2.
Senior Advocate Gopal Subramanium and Senior Advocate Sajan Poovayya, appearing for the company relying on regulation 35 (8) of the the Competition Commission of India (General) Amendment Regulations, 2022, submitted that "The CCI in its order dated 18-04-2022 has permitted divulging of confidential information to the respondent 2, which is contrary to the regulations."
Further it was said, "Regulation 35 (6) be read and harmoniously interpreted with regulation 35 (8), which is an overriding provision." It was also contended that in light of the confidential information, whether the requisites of 35 (8) have been fulfilled by CCI, by applying its mind and recording its finding in terms of the conditions being fulfilled is a matter that is to be decided by this court."
Advocate Abir Roy appearing for the respondent no 2, said, "The undertaking given under regulation 35 (7) by him is a solemn undertaking given which they are bound by and needs to be taken note off." Roy even raised the question of maintainability of the petition.
Senior Advocate Harish Narasappa appearing for CCI submitted that subsequent representation has been made by the petitioner on the same line, which is awaiting order to be passed by commission.
Following which the court in its order said, "Matter has come up before the vacation bench at the outset it was clarified that final order even in regards to interim relief will be after detailed consideration and in light of that a transitory interim direction is passed. It is clarified that any observation made by this order will not be taken to be a conclusion or definitive opinion and is subject to further order to be passed."
Accordingly it passed the interim direction which will be operating till May 25, the next date of hearing.
Case Title: GOOGLE INDIA PRIVATE LIMITED & others versus COMPETITION COMMISSION OF INDIA & others
Case No: WP 9399/2022