NCLAT Directs Google To Pay Rs 1,338 Crore Penalty Imposed By CCI Within 30 Days

Swarajya Staff

Mar 30, 2023, 08:40 AM | Updated 08:40 AM IST

Google office
Google office

India's National Company Law Appellate Tribunal (NCLAT) has upheld a Rs 1,338 crore fine on Google for anti-competitive practices in relation to Android mobile devices but has scrapped some of the conditions imposed, including allowing the hosting of third-party app stores on Google's Play Store.

While upholding the fine imposed by the Competition Commission of India (CCI) for exploiting its dominant position in Android, the NCLAT struck down an anti-trust regulator order that said Google could not restrict the removal of its pre-installed apps by users.

However, it upheld CCI's six directions, including allowing users to choose their default search engine during initial device set-up and ensuring original equipment manufacturers cannot be forced to pre-install apps.

Google is asked to implement these directions and deposit the penalty within 30 days.

The NCLAT also set aside four CCI directions, including the one which said app developers would be able to port their apps easily onto Android forks.

CCI had said Google will not deny access to its Play Services APIs to disadvantage OEMs, app developers, and its competitors.

The appellate tribunal reasoned that the APIs and Google Play Services cannot be given through unhindered access to competitors, OEMs, and app developers.

The NCLAT observed that OEMs are free to not pre-install any of the 11 suites of apps of Google, including Google search services, Chrome browser, YouTube, Google Maps, Gmail, or any other application of Google.

The tribunal reasoned that when the pre-installed apps are at the choice of the OEMs, and they are not obliged to pre-install the entire bouquet of apps, the directions issued by CCI appear to be "unnecessary."

The NCLAT also struck down two more directions, including the one that said Google will allow the developers of app stores to distribute their app stores through Play Store.

Google has been given 30 days to pay the penalty and implement the order. The tech giant can now challenge the order in the Supreme Court, reports Moneycontrol.

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