Hear CCI plea for vacating stay on probe against Amazon, Flipkart: SC to HC

CAIT secretary general Praveen Khandelwal said that the CAIT appreciates the order since it has fixed a timeline of 6 weeks for the Karnataka High Court to decide on the issue.
The Supreme Court has declined to entertain the petition filed by Competition Commission of India (CCI) seeking to remove Karnataka High Court’s stay on an investigation that the watchdog had ordered against e-commerce firms Amazon and Flipkart related to anti-competitive business practices, according to various reports.

The matter has gone back to the Karnataka High Court. The Supreme Court has asked the Karnataka High Court to decide the CCI plea for vacating 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.

The CCI was directed to approach the High Court by a Bench of Justices AM Khanwilkar, Dinesh Maheshwari and Sanjiv Khanna.

Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, who appeared for the CCI said that the investigation ordered against e-commerce firms was administrative in nature. He said it did not affect the rights of any party.

Senior advocate Abhishek Manu Singhvi, who appeared for the e-commerce firms, said the CCI approached the apex court after the delay of over 200 days.

Early this month, the CCI appealed in the Supreme Court against the Karnataka High Court’s interim stay on its probe against the e-commerce firms.

The Confederation of All India Traders (CAIT), which represents 70 million traders,  has welcomed the order of the Supreme Court.

CAIT secretary general Praveen Khandelwal said that the CAIT appreciates the order since it has fixed a timeline of 6 weeks for the Karnataka High Court to decide on the issue.
“This is a strong direction to Karnataka High Court since the issue has been hanging fire since  January 13 when CCI initiated investigation proceedings against Amazon and Flipkart,” said Khandelwal.

He said that the order of the apex Court has landed into a unique situation where both CAIT and Delhi Vyapar Mahasangh (DVM) have already filed an appeal in the Double Bench of the Karnataka High Court challenging the Single Judge Bench order of the High Court made on February 14, 2020.

 “This appeal is already pending before the two-judge Bench and the matter is likely to come up for hearing very soon,” said Khandelwal. “Whereas, as per the order of the Supreme Court, the Single Judge Bench is to hear the matter again and decide the same within 6 weeks.”

Khandelwal and his team are consulting lawyers on the implications of the order of the Supreme Court and also about the appeal pending before the two-judge Bench.

Early this year, the CCI ordered an investigation against e-commerce players after the Delhi Vyapar Mahasangh, a traders’ body, filed a complaint against the firms’ practices like giving deep discounts on online sales of smartphones and cherry-picking sellers.

In a major relief to e-commerce majors Amazon India and Flipkart, the Karnataka High Court had granted an interim stay on the CCI’s order. The court had granted the respondents eight weeks to file a counter.


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