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Amazon, CCI spar in court over antitrust probe


A day after US-based e-tailer Amazon presented its arguments against India’s anti-trust body’s probe order in the Karnataka high court, the Competition Commission of India has called Amazon’s arguments mischievous and an attempt to create confusion over its jurisdiction.

Contesting Amazon’s argument, CCI’s advocate BN Harish said on Thursday that the e-tailer has no legal ground and it is trying to create confusion by raising FDI policy jurisdiction issue.

CCI is examining whether e-commerce majors Amazon and Flipkart have entered into anti-competitive practices in violation of Section 3 of the Competition Act and it is within its jurisdiction to order a probe against the allegations of predatory pricing, exclusivity and deep discounting by both the e-tailers, he added.

In its opening arguments against the CCI probe, Amazon had said in the court that since they are regulated under the FDI policy, the regulator’s order is infringing on the jurisdiction of the central government.

Amazon had called the CCI order ‘perverse, arbitrary, untenable in law’. It also argued that CCI had also not given a chance to the company before coming out with the probe order.

To this, the CCI’s counsel said that it has the discretion to call for certain cases for investigation under Section 26(1) of the Competition Act, which states that investigation can be ordered if prima facie case exists.

The Delhi Vyapar Mahasangh, a group representing small and medium business houses, said that the allegations over preferred sellers and deep discounts merit an investigation against Amazon.

According to media reports, the regulator has initiated a probe against the e-tailer even while the case is ongoing.

Amazon and Flipkart have been under the scanner over allegations of offering deep discounts, preferred listings, promotion of private labels and exclusive partnerships with phone brands.

On Monday, US-based e-commerce firm had filed a writ petition seeking a stay on the probe ordered by the CCI in January. Flipkart is expected to present its arguments on Friday.

The Confederation of All India Traders (CAIT), that has been at the forefront of protests against the FDI policy violation by e-tailers, said that Jeff Bezos-led platform has violated FDI norms and has been involved in predatory pricing and deep discounting.

“Time and again, Amazon has made a public statement that it is complying with both FDI policy and other laws and if its true then why Amazon is shying away from the investigation,” said Praveen Khandelwal, secretary-general, CAIT.

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