Google, CCI Cross-Pleas in Android Mobile Device Case to Be Heard by Supreme Court in October

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The Supreme Court on Friday said it will hear on October 10 the cross-pleas of Google and the Competition Commission of India (CCI) challenging the verdict of an appellate tribunal in a case related to Google’s alleged anti-competitive practices in the android mobile device case.

A bench comprising Chief Justice D Y Chandrachud and Justices P S Narasimha and Manoj Misra took up the appeals and said it wanted “some time to get ready” with the case.

Senior advocate Harish Salve, appearing for one of the parties, said the plea may be kept for final disposal later.

The bench then said that the cross-pleas can be listed for final disposal on October 10 and the parties shall complete filing of pleadings by October 7.

It also appointed lawyer Sameer Bansal as the nodal counsel for preparing common digital pleadings with the help of lawyers from both sides for easy adjudication of the matter.   On March 29, the National Company Law Appellate Tribunal (NCLAT) had handed out a mixed verdict on Google’s alleged anti-competitive practices in the 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 the CCI for exploiting its dominant position in Android, the NCLAT had struck down an anti-trust regulator order that had said Google will not restrict the removal of its pre-installed apps by the users.

Both Google and the CCI came to the Supreme Court against the NCLAT judgement.

On July 7, the top court had taken up the appeals and adjourned the hearing to July 14 after taking note of the submissions that senior advocate Salve was unavailable.

Earlier, the NCLAT in its 189-page order, upheld 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 made it clear that OEMs cannot be forced to pre-install a bouquet of apps.

The appellate tribunal 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 the four directions” issued and added that Google is “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 slapped a penalty of Rs. 1,337.76 crore on Google for anti-competitive practices in relation to Android mobile devices. The regulator also ordered the internet major to cease and desist from various unfair business practices. 


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