SC asks Karnataka HC to decide CCI plea for vacating stay on probe against Amazon, Flipkart

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New Delhi, Oct 26 (PTI) The Supreme Court Monday asked the Karnataka High Court to decide the CCI plea for vacating stay on the investigation against e-commerce giants Amazon and Flipkart for alleged anti-competitive practices.

A bench comprising Justices A M Khanwikar, Dinesh Maheswari and Sanjiv Khanna asked the Competition Commission of India (CCI) to approach the High Court for relief.

“In deference to the observation made by the Court, learned Solicitor General (appearing for CCI) has agreed to move the High Court, in the first instance, for appropriate directions, including for modification and vacating the interim relief granted to the respondents (e-commerce firms)”, the bench said.

Solicitor General Tushar Mehta said the probe ordered against the firms was administrative in nature and would not affect the rights of any party.

He sought keeping the petition pending saying there are several wider issues involved in the case.

Senior advocate A M Singhvi, appearing for one of the parties, said the CCI approached the top court after the delay of over 200 days.

The bench said that the High Court would hear the matter and decide it within six weeks.

“If such application is filed before the High Court, we have no manner of doubt that the High Court will take up the same for hearing expeditiously and dispose of preferably within six weeks from the date of institution of the said application”, the bench said in its order.

The top court while disposing of the CCI's appeal, granted it liberty to revive it, if and when necessary.

On February 14, the High Court had granted an interim stay on the investigation ordered by the CCI against Amazon and Flipkart.

Amazon had moved the high court seeking a stay on the investigation ordered by the CCI.

Flipkart also filed a petition in the High Court seeking to quash the order passed by the CCI directing a probe into allegations of anti-competitive conduct.

In its plea, Amazon had sought quashing and setting aside the CCI's January 13, 2020 probe order, and had also prayed the court to provide relief based on 'facts and circumstances of the case in the interest of justice'.

In its petition before the High Court, Amazon had contended that the CCI order had been passed 'without application of mind' and would cause irreparable loss/ injury to the goodwill/reputation of the company if an investigation is allowed.

The fair trade regulator CCI had in January this year ordered the probe against Flipkart and Amazon for alleged malpractices, including deep discounting and tie-ups with preferred sellers on their platforms.

The order by CCI followed complaints filed by traders' bodies including by Delhi Vyapar Mahasangh, whose members comprise many traders dealing in smart phones and related accessories. PTI MNL ABA SJK SA AAR AAR