The Competition Commission of India (CCI) has appealed in the Supreme Court against the Karnataka High Court’s interim stay on an investigation that the watchdog had ordered against e-commerce firms Amazon and Flipkart related to anti-competitive business practices, according to sources.
“The appeal by CCI (in Supreme Court) is one of the most logical and most awaited steps to nail both Amazon and Flipkart for continuing their respective mal-practices including predatory pricing, deep discounting (and) exclusive arrangements with brands and holding inventory,” alleged Praveen Khandelwal, secretary-general of the CAIT, which is leading a campaign against both Amazon and Walmart, since more than two years.
Amazon and Flipkart did not respond to the queries about the new development.
Early this year, the CCI ordered an investigation against e-commerce players after the Delhi Vyapar Mahasangh, a traders’ body, filed a complaint against the firms’ practices like giving deep discounts on online sales of smartphones and cherry-picking sellers. In a major relief to e-commerce majors Amazon India and Flipkart, the Karnataka High Court had granted an interim stay on the CCI’s order. The court had granted the respondents eight weeks to file a counter.
CCI’s appeal comes at a time when e-commerce companies such as Amazon and Flipkart are planning to host their biggest sale events to tap the upcoming festive season. Amazon is hosting ‘Great Indian Festival’ (GIF) which will commence from October 17 and Flipkart is conducting ‘The Big Billion Days' (BBD), which will start from October 16. This year, Flipkart said that its BBD event has created over 70,000 direct and lakhs of indirect seasonal jobs. Amazon India this year opened close to 50,000 seasonal roles to meet the surge in demand from people relying on Amazon’s service, particularly those most vulnerable to being out in public. The company had said that it also opened close to 20,000 seasonal employment opportunities in its customer service (CS) organization.
Khandelwal said that CAIT will soon reach out to the government to ban any kind of festival sales of these companies in the forthcoming festival season. He said the Apex Court will certainly take cognisance of the plea of CCI as to why investigation against both companies is necessary. He said that the government should introduce e-commerce policy having a regulatory authority to regulate and monitor e-commerce business in India. He alleged that the e-commerce business has been greatly “vitiated” by Amazon and Flipkart.