Setback for Facebook as Delhi HC refuses to stay CCI's privacy notice

Topics Delhi High Court | Facebook | CCI

The Delhi High Court has refused to stay the Competition Commission of India (CCI) notice asking Facebook (FB) and WhatsApp to furnish certain information in relation to a probe ordered by it into the instant messaging app’s new privacy policy.


A vacation bench of Justices Anup Jairam Bhambhani and Jasmeet Singh said an application seeking stay of further steps in the investigation has been filed in which notice was issued to the Director General of CCI and no interim relief was given by the division bench on May 6. It is listed for consideration on July 9.


“We also find that there is substantial overlap, in fact near identity, as between the prayers made in... (earlier application) and those made in the present application. For the foregoing reason, we do not consider it appropriate to stay the operation of impugned notice dated June 4, at this stage,” the bench said in its order passed on June 21 and made available on Wednesday. The bench said there was no doubt that the June notice by the DG is a step in furtherance of the investigation commenced in suo motu case pursuant to order of March 24, which is the subject matter of the challenge in the present appeals.


In their fresh applications filed in the pending appeals, Facebook and WhatsApp have sought stay on the CCI’s notices asking them to furnish certain information for the inquiry conducted by it. The notices were issued to WhatsApp and Facebook on June 4 and June 8 respectively. The case relates to the appeals of Facebook and WhatsApp against a single judge order dismissing their pleas against the probe CCI ordered into the instant messaging app's new privacy policy.


The high court had on May 6 issued notices on the appeals and asked the Centre to respond to it. The high court, in its June 21 order, noted that Additional Solicitor Generals (ASG) Aman Lekhi and Balbir Singh, representing CCI, submitted that though the issuance was perfectly in line with the procedure contemplated under the statute for taking forward an ongoing investigation, which has not been stayed by the division bench, it would take substantial time for preparing a report after the receipt of the information called-for.


Once the report is prepared, it would be then forwarded to the CCI, they said, adding that the preparation of the report would not be completed at least before the next date of hearing before the roster division bench on July 7.


“Taking note of...(Lekhi and Singh’s) statement as above, we would only urge the DG to bear in mind that investigation against the ap­pellant (Facebook and WhatsApp) is under judicial consideration before a division bench of this court; and we direct that the matter be listed before the roster division bench on July 9, the date already fixed,” the vacation bench said and issued notice on the fresh applications.

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

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