Home / News / India /  SC asks Karnataka HC to decide on CCI plea to probe Amazon, Flipkart in 6 weeks

The Supreme court on Monday refused to hear the plea filed by Competition Commission of India (CCI) seeking directions to vacate the stay order granted by Karnataka High court against the investigation of Flipkart and Amazon. However, the apex court asked the Karnataka High court to decide on CCI’s plea to probe into the alleged anti- competitive practices of the e-commerce giants within six weeks.

The apex court bench headed by Justice AM Khanwikar asked CCI to approach the division bench of Karnataka High court to seek the relief for vacation of stay.

Following the complaints filed by traders’ bodies including Delhi Vyapar Mahasangh, CCI on 13 January, had ordered the probe against Flipkart and Amazon for alleged malpractices, including deep discounting and tie-ups with preferred sellers on their platforms. Subsequently, Amazon and Flipkart moved to Karnataka High court seeking a stay and quashing of the probe order respectively.

Amazon had contended in its petition before HC that the CCI’s investigative order had been passed “without application of mind" and would cause irreparable loss/injury to the goodwill/reputation of the company if an investigation is allowed.

On 14 February, a single judge bench of the high court had granted an interim stay on the investigation order.

On Monday, arguing for CCI Solicitor General Tushar Mehta submitted before the apex court that the probe order was administrative in nature and would not affect the rights of any party.

However, after the court refused to interfere with the High Court’s order, Mehta urged the court to keep the petition pending. He highlighted that there are several wider issues related to this case.

Senior Advocate Abhishek Manu Singhvi, representing the e-commerce companies, opposed this plea while apprising the bench of the procedural lacuna. He said that that CCI has approached the court after a delay of 200 days and should have approached the high court before coming before the apex court.

The bench comprising Justices AM Khanwilkar, Dinesh Maheswari and Sanjiv Khanna while giving a timeline of six weeks to Karnataka high court to hear the matter added that incase High court does not give a decision the petition may be revived in the top court.

Secretary General Mr. Praveen Khandelwal of the Confederation of All India Traders (CAIT) while welcoming the Top court’s strong directions in the order said, “the order of the apex Court has landed into a unique situation where both CAIT and Delhi Vyapar Mahasangh has already filed an appeal in Double Bench of the Karnataka High Court challenging the Single Judge Bench order of the High Court made on February,14,2020. This appeal is already pending before the two judge Bench and the matter is likely to come up for hearing very soon. Whereas, as per the order of the Supreme Court, the Single Judge Bench is to hear the matter again and decide the same within 6 weeks."

He also added, “We shall act as per the legal advice of our lawyers but in any case, we will not spare any tool for Amazon & Flipkart to go scot free".

Khandelwal in the press statement also heavily criticized the appearance of senior Congress leader Mr. Abhishek Manu Singhvi for appearing on behalf of Amazon saying that the advocacy of Mr. Singhvi who is not only an Advocate but also a public figure shows that both he and his Congress Party is much against the interests of small traders of the Country. Being a political leader Mr. Singhvi should have avoided appearing on behalf of a Corporate which is bent upon on killing the small traders of the Country.

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