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Google files appeal in NCLAT against CCI’s charges of ‘search bias’

Google has filed an appeal in the National Company Law Appellate Tribunal (NCLAT) after Competition Commission of India (CCI)’s charged the company for abusing its dominant position in the market in February this year. The development was first reported by Reuters. The report adds that CCI will defend its verdict at the NCLAT.

In a statement shared with MediaNama, Google’s spokesperson said that “We disagree with aspects of the CCI’s decision, so we have filed an appeal and sought a stay on those findings”.

The anti-competition watchdog of India charged a fine of Rs.135.86 crore on the company for search bias and abusing its dominant position in the market, and said that allegations against the search giant centred around design of the search engine result page.  The CCI pointed out three such instances, such as, it found out that Google to have placed its commercial flight unit at a prominent position on the search engine result page- which was in contravention of some of the provisions of Competition Act. The order was passed in response to information filed by Matrimony.com Limited and Consumer Unity & Trust Society (CUTS) back in 2012. The fine amount is apparently about 5% of Google India’s average revenue generated in three years till FY15. According to this Economic Times report, Google is given 60 days to deposit the fine or appeal the order.

Google’s other issues

This is not the first time that the search giant has been accused of such malpractices. In June 2017, the European Commission fined Google €2.42 billion (or $2.7 billion) for taking unfair advantage of its dominance as a search engine to push its own shopping comparison service to the top of search results. Google was found to be in breach of the European Union’s (EU) antitrust rules.

In India, Google has faced other issues as well. In October 2017, the Income Tax Appellate Tribunal ruled that Google India will be required to pay up back taxes on Rs 1,457 crore remitted by Google India to Google Ireland Limited between 2007-08 and 2012-13. Google Ireland was at the centre of an alleged global tax-avoidance structure for the company. Back in March 2014, the CCI had fined the search giant Rs 1 crore for failing to comply with directives given by the Director-General (DG) seeking information and documents in the same case.

Update: We had added Google’s comment in the post

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