Updated: August 10, 2021 10:21:22 am
The probe ordered by the Competition Commission of India (CCI) against e-commerce giants Amazon and Flipkart for alleged violation of provisions of the Competition Act, 2002, will go on, as the Supreme Court on Monday refused to interfere with a Karnataka High Court order which had refused to stay the investigation.
“We expect big organisations like Amazon and Flipkart to voluntarily go for enquiry and you don’t want even that? You have to submit and enquiry has to be permitted,” Chief Justice N V Ramana, heading a two-judge Bench, remarked as the plea by the two companies challenging the July 23 HC order came up before it.
The Bench, also comprising Justice Surya Kant, said it found no reason to interfere with the HC order but gave the firms four more weeks to reply to the inquiry.
Acting on information provided by the Delhi Vyapar Mahasangh, which comprises of many MSME traders who rely on trade of smartphones and related accessories, the CCI had in January 2020 asked its Director General to hold an investigation and complete it in 60 days.
The Mahasangh stated that there are instances of several vertical agreements between Flipkart and Amazon with their preferred sellers leading to a foreclosure of other non-preferred traders or sellers from these online marketplaces. The traders’ body also alleged that most of these preferred sellers are affiliated with or controlled by Flipkart or Amazon, either directly or indirectly.
The companies challenged this before the Karnataka HC where a single-judge Bench rejected it on June 11, saying “it would be unwise to prejudge the issues raised by the petitioners in these writ petitions at this stage and scuttle the investigation”.
On appeal, a division Bench of the Karnataka HC upheld the single-judge order.
Meanwhile, according to a PTI report, Amazon and Flipkart on Monday said they will extend full cooperation to the CCI probe, following the Supreme Court’s refusal to entertain their pleas.
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