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Delhi HC seeks response from CCI, startups' in Google billing policy case

Anti-trust regulator has asked tech giant to not restrict app developers from using third-party billing services

Delhi High Court

Delhi High Court

Bhavini Mishra New Delhi

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The Delhi High Court issued on Wednesday a notice to the Competition Commission of India (CCI) and Alliance of Digital India Foundation (ADIF) on Google’s appeal against its order directing the market regulator to decide the plea of start-ups against the tech giant’s new payment policy.

A bench of Chief Justice Satish Chandra Sharma and Justice Subramonium Prasad sought a response from CCI and ADIF and listed the matter for July 19, 2023.

A single-judge bench of the Delhi High Court had on Monday asked the CCI to decide ADIF’s plea against Google's billing policy on or before April 26. Google filed an appeal against this order.

The ADIF, which represents a group of digital start-ups, has filed a petition to suspend Google's new in-app billing fee system, called the User Choice Billing (UCB) until the CCI investigates the company for alleged non-compliance with its directives. The ADIF had alleged that despite the regulator’s directive asking the tech giant to allow the use of third-party billing services for in-app payments, the UCB system charges a high service fee.

Google was to implement the UCB on Wednesday (April 26).

The CCI, in October last year, imposed a penalty of Rs 936 crore on Google and asked it not restrict app developers from using any third-party billing services and to not impose any discriminatory condition.

ADIG said start-ups' grievance was that the anti-trust regulator had failed to act on its plea about the new policy owing to a lack of quorum at the regulator.

The court on Monday ruled that any vacancy or defect in the constitution of CCI would not invalidate any proceedings as far as its adjudicatory powers are concerned. “Any interpretation, other than the aforesaid, would render the provisions of Section 15(Vacancy not to invalidate proceedings of Commission) otiose and which could not possibly be the intention of the Legislature either," the court said.

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First Published: Apr 26 2023 | 6:08 PM IST

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