Charges of having preferred sellers baseless: Amazon Lawyer to Karnataka HC

he Karnataka High Court is hearing the petition filed by CCI for the probe against e-commerce firms Amazon and Flipkart.(Bloomberg)
The Competition Commission of India (CCI) probe into Amazon is on the premise that the firm is running the inventory-based model of e-commerce, but in reality, it is a market-based model of online retail, Senior Advocate Gopal Subramanium argued before the Karnataka High Court on Wednesday.

“The allegation that we (Amazon) have preferred sellers, is completely wrong,” Subramanium contended, according to the law platform Bar & Bench. “There is no direct relationship between me or any seller. The brand chooses the seller. I am only a market place.”

The Karnataka High Court is hearing the petition filed by CCI for the probe against e-commerce firms Amazon and Flipkart.

Delhi Vyapar Mahasangh (DVM) had raised many allegations against the e-commerce company. These included Amazon having exclusivity deals with phone brands and deep discounting related to products and predatory pricing. Subramanium informed the Court, that this has been taken as the "gospel truth" by CCI without seeing the material.
Also, the Confederation of All India Traders (CAIT) had made the allegation Amazon) has a direct relationship with the seller Cloudtail and was preferring it. Subramanium informed the Court that there is no material to show that any seller was precluded or prevented from having access to any particular brand. He contended that various brands such as Vivo, Xiaomi and Samsung witnessed growth in volumes of products, both in the offline and online marketplaces. He mentioned that the discount is offered by the seller and not Amazon. 

The matter will be heard next on January 21, 2021.

This is a continuation of the matter when the Supreme Court in October last year declined to entertain the petition filed by CCI seeking to remove Karnataka High Court’s stay on an investigation that the watchdog had ordered against Amazon and Flipkart related to anti-competitive business practices.

This is because the matter had gone back to the Karnataka High Court. The Supreme Court had asked the Karnataka High Court to decide the CCI plea for vacating the stay on the probe against Amazon and Flipkart for the alleged anti-competitive practices. It asked the High Court to decide on the matter within a period of six weeks.
Last year in October, the CCI appealed in the Supreme Court against the Karnataka High Court’s interim stay on its probe against the e-commerce firms. The matter was heard by a single-judge bench of the Karnataka High Court. The judge, upon hearing every party, decided that he would hear the petition of Amazon and Flipkart for final disposal including the petition of CCI on 18 January 2021.

Both Amazon and Flipkart preferred to file a writ petition in February 2020 in Karnataka High Court challenging the order of investigation of CCI pursuant to an information filed by Delhi Vyapar Mahasangh (DVM) and the Confederation of All India Traders (CAIT). The single judge ordered a stay on the investigation, to which the CCI filed a petition before the Supreme Court in October 2020 with the prayer for vacating the said stay.


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