Amazon back in Karnataka HC to quash CCI probe into alleged anti-competition practicesBengaluru–The Karnataka High Court on Wednesday heard a plea from ecommerce giant Amazon seeking to quash a probe by India’s competition watchdog over charges of anti-competitive practices.

The Competition Commission of India (CCI) had ordered the investigation on January 13 last year – under Section 26(1) of the Competition Act — into a set of allegations by traders’ lobby group Delhi Vyapar Mahasangh against ecommerce companies Amazon and Walmart-owned Flipkart and had sought a report from its director general in 60 days.

The Karnataka high court had, however, stayed the investigation after Amazon filed a writ petition before it in February last year.

The CCI has filed objections before the court with a plea to vacate the stay and allow the investigation.

Appearing for Amazon, senior advocate Gopal Subramanium said CCI’s own market study had concluded that even if the online platform had entered into exclusive agreements with sellers, they could not be called anti-competitive.

Subramanium submitted to the court that a violation of the FDI policy could not be a ground for the CCI to order a collateral investigation against Amazon.

The court posted the case for further hearing on Thursday.

About 756,000 sellers conduct business on its platform and all of them cannot be preferred sellers, Subramanium said, adding that the online retailer promotes competition with its competitive prices.

Amazon and Flipkart did not respond to requests for comment till press time Wednesday.

The allegations by Delhi Vyapar Mahasangh cover certain practices such as deep discounting by the two ecommerce platforms to their preferred sellers, promotion of private label brands, creation of search bias in favour of preferred sellers, exclusive tie-ups and preferred labels, and cross-subsidization by the two platforms to keep pricing of some products below cost.

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