Finally, Google has received some relief in ongoing hearing in NCLAT against its involvement in manipulating search for gaining unfair advantages. Hearing the appeal filed by the search giant, National Company Law Appellate Tribunal (NCLAT) has partially stayed CCI order.
It had directed Google to pay 10 per cent (Rs 13.6 crore) of the penalty amount imposed by Competition Commission of India (CCI) within four weeks.
A bench of SJ Mukhopadhaya and Bansi Lal Bhatt has observed, “Google requires to display a disclaimer in the commercial flight unit box indicating clearly that the “search flights” link placed at the bottom leads to Google’s Flights page, and not the results aggregated by any other third party service provider, so that users are not misled.”
Two months ago, CCI had slapped Rs 136 crore fine on Google for its indulgence in practices of search bias and by doing so, it causes harm to its competitors as well as to users. At that time, the regulator also said the penalty is being imposed on Google for “infringing antitrust conduct”.
During the course of the investigation, the CCI had found that the search engine was involved in unfair trade practices in three instances.
First, search results appeared on Google before 2010 were pre-determined and not based on relevance. Secondly, it prominently displayed and placed Commercial Flight Unit with a link to Google’s specialized Flight search service. It essentially barred users to access alternative choices, which is an unfair act.
Lastly, CCI found that prohibitions imposed on other flight aggregators are unfair as this restricts their choice of partners.
Considering the aforementioned grounds against the Alphabet-owned company, the CCI had imposed a penalty on it at the rate of 5 per cent of its total average revenue generated from Indian operations for the FY13,14, and 15.
The probe first started by the watchdog in 2012 on complaints filed by matchmaking website Bharat Matrimony (now Matrimony.com) and a not-for-profit organisation, Consumer Unity and Trust Society (CUTS).
The development was first reported by Bar&Bench.