New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Monday refused to halt an inquiry into Amazon and Flipkart’s business practices, rejecting their demands to pause a Competition Commission of India (CCI) probe.
The CCI had ordered the investigation last year – for allegedly promoting select sellers on their e-commerce platforms and using business practices that stifle competition. The inquiry is also focused on accusations the two circumvent India’s laws by creating complex business structures.
The investigation has triggered public spats between the two e-commerce giants and the government. Both companies deny all wrongdoing and have mounted multiple legal challenges,
They have argued that the CCI did not comply with internal criteria for minimum evidence before ordering its probe, and that it has not highlighted any agreement that violates existing laws.
However, a three-member bench led by Chief Justice NV Ramana remained unconvinced with today’s arguments, and even said Amazon and Flipkart should volunteer for such investigations.
“We expect organisations like Amazon and Flipkart… big organisations… they have to volunteer for inquiry and transparency. We expect that… and you don’t even want (an) inquiry,” the Chief Justice said, adding, “You have to submit and inquiry has to be conducted.”
The e-commerce giants have been given four weeks to join inquiries against them.
Amazon and Flipkart, which is owned by American multinational retail corp. Walmart, approached the top court after the Karnataka High Court last month dismissed pleas to quash the CCI probe.
In a major setback to their efforts to stall the antitrust investigations, the court told the companies that since they denied all allegations, “they should not feel shy in facing an inquiry”.