Supreme Court asks Karnataka High Court to hear CCI plea for vacation of stay on investigation against Amazon, Flipkart

 

The Bench asked the High Court to decide the matter within a period of six weeks. It also stated that the present petition may be revived in the event no decision is taken by the High Court.

Amazon, Flipkart

The Supreme Court today declined to entertain a petition filed by the Competition Commission of India (CCI) seeking vacation of the stay directed by the Karnataka High Court against its order calling for a probe into alleged anti-competitive practices by Flipkart, Amazon and others.

The Bench of Justices AM KhanwilkarDinesh Maheshwari and Sanjiv Khanna directed the CCI to approach the Karnataka High Court instead.

During the hearing, Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, appearing for CCI, told the Court that the probe was administrative in nature and did not affect the rights and liberties of anyone. He further argued that despite "repeated requests", the matter was not taken up for hearing by the High Court.

While Mehta sought to highlight the "wider issues" related to the matter and urged the Court to keep the petition pending, Senior Advocate Abhishek Manu Singhvi argued that the CCI approached the Apex Court after a delay of 209 days, without seeking relief from a Division Bench of the High Court first.

The Bench expressed its disinclination to hear the matter, and asked the High Court to decide on the matter within a period of six weeks. It also stated that the present petition may be revived in the event no decision is taken by the High Court.

In February this year, the Karnataka High Court granted interim relief to Amazon by staying the investigation into alleged anti-competitive practices on the part of the e-commerce giant ordered by the CCI in January.

Following the trail of its competitor Amazon, Flipkart had filed a petition in the Karnataka High Court seeking to quash the order passed by the CCI directing a probe into allegations of anti-competitive conduct.

In its order passed on January 13 this year, the CCI prima facie had observed that there appears to be an exclusive partnership between smartphone manufacturers and the two e-commerce platforms for the exclusive launch of smartphone brands. In this light, it was held,

“Thus, exclusive launch coupled with preferential treatment to a few sellers and the discounting practices create an ecosystem that may lead to an appreciable adverse effect on competition.”

 

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