Quantum of fine imposed on Google 'disappointing': Law firm

The Competition Commission of India slapped a fine of Rs 136 crore on Google for unfair business practices in the Indian market for online search.

Published: 09th February 2018 04:05 PM  |   Last Updated: 09th February 2018 04:17 PM   |  A+A-

Image used for representational purpose.

By PTI

NEW DELHI:  Law firm Shardul Amarchand Mangaldas & Co, which represented one of the complainants against Google, today said the CCI's fine amount of Rs 136 crore on the Internet major is "disappointing" even though the ruling is a significant development.

The low penalty could be as a result of financial jugglery by Google, the law firm, which represented Matrimony.com, one of the entities on whose complaint the CCI has passed the order against the Internet giant, said.

On Thursday, the Competition Commission of India (CCI) slapped a fine of Rs 136 crore on Google for unfair business practices in the Indian market for online search.

Through a majority order, the watchdog had said the penalty is being imposed on Google for "infringing anti-trust conduct".

Shardul Amarchand Mangaldas & Co's Naval Satarawala Chopra said the ruling is a significant development and is aimed at creating a level playing field in India for companies that compete with Google's vertical services, especially in flight search.

"The penalty amount is disappointing as it will not have a deterrent effect on Google whose turnover is USD 110 billion," he told PTI.

"However, as the CCI points out with 'dismay' it is based on caveated turnover information provided by Google and may not be a fair and full disclosure.

"Therefore, there is potential of the penalty to increase at the appellate stage. The low penalty could be as a result of financial jugglery by Google," Chopra said in a statement.

Chopra, who led the legal team for Matrimony.com, noted that both in majority and minority decisions, the CCI has categorically found Google to enjoy a dominant position in search and search advertising.

"The ramifications of this are well beyond the order as dominance bestows upon Google a 'special responsibility'. This could pave the way for additional complaints," he said.

Reacting to the CCI order, Google on Thursday had said the company is "reviewing the narrow concerns identified by the Commission and will assess our next steps".

According to Chopra, the regulator has the power to penalise individuals at Google responsible for the abusive conduct.

"The Director General identified certain top management executives. It is to be seen whether the CCI will prosecute such individuals," Chopra noted.

The DG is the investigation arm of the regulator.

The penalty amount of Rs 135.86 crore translates to 5 per cent of the company's average total revenue generated from India operations from its different business segments for the financial years 2013, 2014 and 2015, as per the CCI.

Further, the regulator had said it gave a thoughtful consideration on the submissions made by Google on issue of penalty and found it appropriate to impose a fine.

The CCI ruling came on complaints filed by Matrimony.com and Consumer Unity & Trust Society (CUTS) -- back in 2012 against Google LLC, Google India Pvt Ltd and Google Ireland Ltd.

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