SC rejects petition by Amazon, Flipkart against CCI probe

10 Aug 2021


The Supreme Court has refused to stop the enquiry ordered by the Competition Commission of India (CCI) into the alleged anti-trust practices of e-commerce giants Flipkart and Amazon.

A bench comprising Chief Justice of India NV Ramana, Justices Vineet Saan and Surya Kant dismissed Amazon’s petition challenging CCI probe.
"As big e-commerce organisations you should volunteer for antitrust investigation but you are objecting," said chief justice of India (CJI) NV Ramana-led bench.
The bench, however, accepted the request of the e-commerce giants for extending the time to reply to CCI. "We see no reason to interfere in order. Seeing that time granted is expiring on 9 August, we extend it by 4 weeks", LiveLaw quoted the bench as saying.
Earlier, the Karnataka High Court had also refused to intervene in the preliminary enquiry ordered by the CCI. The bench said that the CCI enquiry must go on.
The CCI last year ordered an inquiry after allegations from brick-and-mortar retailers that the US firms promoted select sellers on their e-commerce platforms and used to business practices that stifle competition.
“These platforms (Flipkart and Amazon) are capable of influencing prices being charged by sellers by providing several discounts as well as inventory to the sellers,” the CCI had pointed out.
These platforms use practices like deep discounting, exclusive brand tie-ups, preferential listing and market duopoly to influence mrket, CCI had pointed out as the reasons for considering a thorough investigation of business practices of both the online sellers.
CCI also said that e-commerce players can “gather data on consumer preferences and allegedly use them to their advantage".
By using terms like "Assured seller" and "Fulfilled" for sellers, Flipkart and Amazon respectively list their products on the first page, which is where usually people buy most of their products from. This means the non-preferred partners get left out.
Also, CCI said that the exclusive tie-ups with brands, especially smartphone brands on which these players tend to offer discounts, are preferential listings.

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