‘Findings not contrary to the weight of record’; Supreme Court affirms NCLAT’s order refusing to stay CCI’s Rs 1,338 crore penalty on Google LLC for anti-competitive practices

Supreme Court: The full bench of Dr. D.Y. Chandrachud, C.J., P.S. Narasimha and J.B. Pardiwala J.J., repudiated the appeal of Google LLC who had challenged the order of the National Company Law Tribunal (‘NCLAT') which had refused to stay Competition Commission of India's (‘CCI') order and had directed Google LLC to deposit 10% of the penalty quantified by the order of the CCI for abuse of dominance in relation to Android eco-system. CCI had imposed INR 1,338 crore penalty on Google LLC for unfair and anti-competitive practices in relation to Android phones.

Issue for consideration before the Court was whether interim relief can be granted on the basis of the materials on the record and whether interference at this stage was warranted.

The Supreme Court was of the view that remitting the matter back to NCLAT for a detailed hearing on the merits of the application for interim relief would result in a delay in the final disposal of the appeal in accordance with the time schedule which had been set out in the order of NCLAT. Thus, decided to hear the stay application on merits of the case.

The Court disparaged the contention of Google LLC that the CCI, in its order did not state abuse of Google's dominant position in India and stated that whether Google has a position of dominance in India or not, was not in dispute. The Court stated that the “findings cannot be regarded as contrary to the weight of the record, at the interlocutory stage.”

The Court had reservation to express its opinion on the merits of the case which would otherwise affect the proceedings pending before NCLAT and stated that the findings of the CCI at the interlocutory stage was neither without jurisdiction nor suffered from any error which would necessitate interference in the appeal. However, directed the NCLAT to dispose of the appeal by 31-03-2023.

[Google LLC v. Competition Commission of India, 2023 SCC OnLine SC 88, decided on 19-01-2023]

Advocates who appeared in this case :

For the appellant- Senior Advocate A.M. Singhvi

For the respondent- Additional Solicitor General N. Venkataraman

*Simran Singh, Editorial Assistant has put together this brief.

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