Amazon vs CCI: FM Sitharaman says we respect court’s order to stay the probe

FE Online

Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Monday said that while the Commerce Ministry and the minister (Piyush Goyal) are aware of the matter (Competition Commission of India's probe into Amazon and Flipkart), the Karnataka High Court's order to stay the probe is respected. "The court and ministry in an equal way are engaged in this matter. If the court has said something we respect it. Let’s see how it moves forward," Sitharaman said in response to a question at a press conference in Bengaluru.

The court last week had provided interim stay on the CCI investigation into the alleged unfair business practices by Amazon and Flipkart claimed by traders' body CAIT and Delhi Vyapar Mahasangh after Amazon claimed the order lacks "factual backing" and that it would cause "irreparable loss and injury" to its reputation. Amazon's lawyer Gopal Subramanian said that Amazon doesn't control the functioning of the sellers on its platform as they are separate entities in which Amazon holds only a small portion of the total shareholding.

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Following the ruling, CAIT and Delhi Vyapar Mahasangh said they would appeal against the court's order "very soon". However, "the court did acknowledge that the Enforcement Directorate should continue its probe against these companies for FDI Violations. The CAIT will now push the government to expedite the ED probe to expose the malpractices of these companies," said its secretary-general Praveen Khandelwal in a statement. The court had stayed the CCI order for probing the two companies given that ED is already probing into Flipkart and Amazon’s activities that CAIT alleged are in contravention of the FDI policy.

Meanwhile, CAIT on Monday wrote to Goyal over the possible impact of Coronavirus on small traders. The body sought barring imports of goods from China and providing a "package" to traders and small industries to "strengthen their production capacity so that the flow of supply chain should not be disturbed" given the "over-dependency" of the domestic trade on China. India's imports from China during FY19 was worth $70.4 billion while exports stood at $16.8 billion as per CMIE data.