NCLAT upholds Rs 1,338-crore fine on Google, scraps CCI’s four conditions

An appellate tribunal on Wednesday handed out a mixed verdict on Google’s alleged anti-competitive practices in the Android mobile devise case – upholding a fine of Rs 1,338 crore but scrapping conditions like allowing hosting of third-party app stores on its Play Store. 

While upholding the fine imposed by competition regulator Competition Commission of India (CCI) for exploiting its dominant position in Android, the National Company Law Appellate Tribunal (NCLAT) struck down the anti-trust regulator’s order that had said that Google would not restrict the removal of its pre-installed apps by the users. 

Notably, the NCLAT, in its 189-page order, upheld the CCI’s six directions, including one in which Google was asked to allow the users during the initial device setup to choose their default search engine and another that had made it clear that OEMs could not be forced to pre-install a bouquet of apps. 

Google said that it was reviewing the NCLAT order and was in the process of evaluating legal options. 

The two-member bench of the NCLAT asked Google to implement the direction and deposit the amount in 30 days. 

The appellate tribunal said: “the impugned order of the commission is upheld except (for) the four directions” issued and added that Google was “thus not entitled for any other relief except for setting aside the above four directions”. 

“The Appellant (Google) is allowed to deposit the amount of penalty (after adjusting the 10 per cent amount of penalty as deposited under order dated January 4, 2023) within a period of 30 days from today,” it said. 

On October 20 last year, the CCI had slapped a penalty of Rs 1,337.76 crore on Google for anti-competitive practices in relation to Android mobile devices. The regulator had also ordered the internet major to cease and desist from various unfair business practices. 

This ruling was challenged before the NCLAT, which is an appellate authority over the orders passed by the CCI. 

Report By