Search is one of the core business and revenue for Google and its parent company Alphabet Inc. Three months ago, the Competition Commission of India (CCI) found the company guilty of search bias and slapped a fine of Rs 136 crore adding that it was “abusing its position in online web search” as pointed out by a Reuters report. As a response to the fine, Google had earlier added that this verdict by CCI only raised “narrow concerns.”
The company seems to have changed its position about the ruling stating that this could have far-reaching implications for the company and its reputation. Google hinted at this in a legal document as part of its plea challenging the ruling. As mentioned in the report, Google states that this ruling “requires Google to change the way it conducts business in India on a lasting basis and the way it designs its search results page in India.” As part of the ruling, CCI ordered Google to remove any restrictions on its agreements with other publishers in the market when it came to direct search.
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Google claimed that CCI incorrectly ruled that such agreements are against the competition law in India. This comes weeks after the company obtained a partial stay order of the fine from National Company Law Appellate Tribunal (NCLAT). As part of the stay, the company was allowed to deposit “only a small part of the imposed penalty.” Google clarified that if it was to follow CCI’s orders, the required changes in the business would cause irreparable loss of reputation to the company. Google India has not issued a statement about these findings from the legal documents at the time of writing.
This is not the only instance where Google has faced a setback from regulatory authorities regarding antitrust. European Commission ordered the company to pay fine of $2.8 billion which is approximately Rs 280 crores. The interesting thing is Matrimony.com, the matchmaking website that first filed the case against Google appealed to CCI arguing that it believes that Google has not been punished properly. The next hearing for Google’s appeal against the ruling is scheduled for May 28, 2018.