Buseiness Line, September 01, 2015

NEW DELHI, AUGUST “This is no witch hunt,” Udai Mehta, Director of Jaipur-based Consumer Unity and Trust Society (CUTS), said on the Competition Commission of India’s probe into Google.

CUTS and Bharat Matrimony were the first to flag off Google’s ‘monopolistic behaviour’, a couple of years ago.

n response to the petition, the Director-General of Competition Commission of India recently filed a report accusing Google of abusing its dominant position to rig search outcomes, both the actual search results and sponsored links. A final decision will be taken by the seven-member panel headed by CCI Chairman Ashok Chawla.

This will be taken after hearing Google and other parties in the case, including the complainants. Google has been asked to file its response to the findings in the Director-General’s report by September 10. If found guilty, it will have to cough up 10 per cent of its annual revenues in India as a fine.

Mehta told BusinessLine: “We are happy the report is in our favour. It is a two-and-a-half-year-old case and things have changed as far as company practices are concerned. Our interest is how markets can improve and companies can perform better.”

Mehta, however, added that the biggest drawback is that under the competition law in India, there is no plea bargaining position. “A company, hence, cannot accept guilt and work out a deal with the Commission. We have been trying to get this amendment. The penalty, for a company like Google, will hardly cause a dent,” he said.

Vinod Dhall, Executive Chairman (Competition) at Vinod Dhall and TT&A, told BusinessLine, “Cases like these are fact specific. The first thing is to define the relevant geographical market and prove Google’s position in the said market. After it is established that Google is dominant, it has to be seen whether it is using this dominance either to exploit its customers or exclude competition.”

Google said in a statement, “We’re currently reviewing this report from the CCI’s ongoing investigation. We continue to work closely with the CCI and remain confident that we comply fully with India’s competition laws. Regulators and courts around the world, including in the US, Germany, Taiwan, Egypt and Brazil, have looked into and found no concerns on many of the issues raised in this report.”.

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