Questioning the delay in filing an appeal against Karnataka HC stay on a probe against Amazon and Flipkart, the Supreme Court has dismissed the competition watchdog’s plea.
The Karnataka HC had on February 14 stayed CCI’s probe into Amazon and Flipkart over alleged anti-competitive practices. The CCI’s appeal in the Apex Court was made on October 6, seven months after the stay.
The apex court has now sent the issue back to the Karnataka HC and directed it to decide on the issue within six weeks, reported Moneycontrol.
Earlier in January 2020, CCI had ordered a probe against the two companies after traders’ bodies like Confederation of All India Traders (CAIT) and Delhi Vyapar Mahasangh (DVM) filed a complaint. Traders bodies, across India, have been accusing Amazon and Flipkart of anti-competitive practices that have created an unlevelled playing field for the brick-and-mortar stores sellers.
Besides this, CAIT and DVM have also accused Amazon and Flipkart of giving deep discounts, preferential treatment to select sellers and more.
Looking into these complaints, CCI had ordered a probe based on ‘prima facie’ evidence just two days before Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos landed in India on a business trip. Last year, even minister of industry and commerce Piyush Goyal was mediating this matter.
However, in February, the Karnataka high court put a stay on the matter, saying that CCI did not have adequate prima facie evidence to start a probe. “Amazon India first challenged the matter where its rival Flipkart was a party to it and both of them submitted in Karnataka High Court that CCI did not have adequate prima facie evidence to start such a probe,” the court said.
In May, CAIT also announced to launch its own ecommerce portal, bharatemarket for which it has tied up with the Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade (DPIIT) to connect millions of mom-and-pop or Kirana shops in the country to digital commerce. The traders association has clarified that the platform will be very different from the private ecommerce entities and will focus on retailers and customers.
Meanwhile, Flipkart has also moved the SC against a CCI investigation based on a complaint by the All India Online Vendors Association (AIOVA). In March, the NCLAT asked CCI to investigate Flipkart over allegations of abuse of dominant position.
The association has assured that it will give no preferential treatment to vendors listed on the platform and built on a geo-tagging feature which will allow customers to place orders from the nearest store of their choice. Once the order is placed, it will take up to two hours for the traders to deliver the items.