Google India asked to pay $161 mn penalty, but gets some reliefs

The National Company Law Appellate Tribunal (NCLAT) has asked Google to pay the fine of $161 million (Rs 1,337.76 crore) imposed on it by the Competition Commission of India (CCI) in 30 days.
Google Android IndiaBut the Indian tribunal on Wednesday gave partial relief to Alphabet Inc’s Google by setting aside four of 10 antitrust directives in a case related to the dominant market position of its Android operating system.

CCI said in October that Google had exploited its dominant position in Android and told it to remove restrictions imposed on device makers, including related to the pre-installation of apps.

NCLAT on Wednesday said CCI’s findings of Google’s anti-competitive conduct were correct and the company was also liable to pay the fine. But NCLAT quashed four of the 10 antitrust remedies that had been imposed on Google to change its business model.

Among the reliefs, Google will now not need to allow hosting of third-party app stores inside Play Store, as had been previously ordered by the CCI.

India’s Supreme Court in January refused to suspend any of the antitrust remedies ordered last year. The top court had asked the tribunal to hear the case on merit and rule by March end.

Among other reliefs, Google will not need to allow users to remove pre-installed apps such as Google Maps, Gmail and Youtube. The company can also continue imposing curbs on sideloading, a practice of downloading apps without using an app store.

Google has been concerned about India’s Android decision as the directives were seen as more sweeping than those imposed in the European Commission’s landmark 2018 ruling against the operating system.

About 97 percent of 600 million smartphones in India run on Google Android, while in Europe, the system accounts for 75 percent of the 550 million smartphones, according to Counterpoint Research estimates.

Rajeev Chandrasekhar, Union Minister of State for Electronics and IT, on Wednesday said the decision by the National Company Law Appellate Tribunal (NCLAT) in the Google-Competition Commission of India (CCI) case is a cautionary message to all platforms and companies.