As the CCI readies to begin its hearing into the alleged anti-competitive practices of Google, the Internet major has demanded access to certain documents held back by the watchdog to prepare a “thorough response” and is believed to have sought more time to make its submissions.
Google, which has been accused of abusing its market dominance in ranking of its Internet search results, has sought two months’ time to make its submissions in this high-profile case, sources said.
The extension has been sought on the grounds that some documents that were used by the Director General’s Office, the investigation arm of the Competition Commission of India (CCI), during the probe have not been provided to the company. Such documents include certain submissions made by third parties, sources said. Google is believed to have been found in violation of certain competition norms by DG in its probe. When contacted, a Google spokesperson said, “As we continue to review this report, we have requested that the CCI provide access to documents and other information referred to in the report but not provided to us, to allow us to prepare a thorough response.”
The CCI has powers to maintain confidentiality with respect to the submissions made in a particular case. With Google seeking more time, the hearings as well as a final decision on this long-drawn case may take even longer. While there has been no official word on the content of the DG probe report, Google had earlier said it is reviewing the report from the CCI’s ongoing investigation.
As per the norms, DG’s report is not binding on the CCI and final decision in this long-running case would be taken by the seven-member Commission headed by Chairman Ashok Chawla. The DG report is believed to contain comments and inputs from a host of entities present in the Internet business including some well-known ecommerce firms and web portals. While submissions from some of them appear to suggest violations on part of Google, others have sided with the US-based global giant.
“We are 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,” the Google spokesperson had said in August. It has been alleged that Google manipulated its search results apart from imposing discriminatory conditions on advertisers, among others.
Last month, Chawla had said the Commission would take some time before a final decision is taken in this case. “The process is fairly lengthy, it is a quasi judicial process. We have to hear the parties involved and then decide. It will take quite sometime,” he had said.
The CCI, which first received a complaint against Google back in 2011, has been looking into allegations that the company abused its dominant position in the search engine space for well over three years.