Startup body files caveat in NCLAT on Google CCI orders

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Alliance of Digital India Foundation (AIDF), a think tank formed by Indian startups has filed a caveat in the National Company Law Appellate Tribunal, to present it’s case if  Google challenges the recent verdicts by India’s competition watchdog, CCI, reported Economic Times. The two orders by CCI amount to a penalty of INR 2,274 crores.

A caveat is a precautionary measure undertaken anticipating an appeal by the opposite party. A decision won’t be taken by NCLAT without hearing the caveator when a caveat application is in force, which is generally valid for 90 days.

Google is expected to challenge the recent CCI decisions before NCLAT. The decisions have held that Google abused dominance in its dealing with smartphone manufacturers on Android terms and developers with PlayStore terms. In both the orders, Google has been asked to cease and desist from such practices in future.

CCI also directed Google to make modifications to its PlayStore terms within three months. This includes allowing mobile app developers to use third-party payment services on its app store. CCI also directed the PlayStore to permit side loading of applications.

An ADIF spokesperson said that this payments decision, along with the Android app bundling decision by the CCI last week, will set a new precedent globally against the anti-trust practices followed by any dominant tech organisation in India, reported IANS.

Google has 60 (sixty) days time to file an appeal before NCLAT against the CCI decisions.

With the reasoned CCI order out last week, Google had said it was “reviewing the (order) to evaluate the next steps”. Historically, CCI has less success in enforcing penalty orders. An analysis by The Morning Context shows that of the INR 13,882 crores fine imposed between April 2011 to March 2019, only INR 127 crore were recovered by CCI.

One of the grounds of appeal by Google may include CCI not taking views of end users who are benefitted by uniform experience that are result of Google’s policies.

“Indian developers have benefited from the technology, security, consumer protections, and unrivaled choice and flexibility that Android and Google Play provide. And by keeping costs low, our model has powered India’s digital transformation and expanded access for hundreds of millions of Indians. We remain committed to our users and developers and are reviewing the decision to evaluate the next steps,” Google said in a statement soon after the first order.