Following the footsteps of e-commerce giant Amazon, Walmart-backed Flipkart has challenged the antitrust investigation ordered against the e-tailer major.
The Competition Commission of India (CCI) had in January had ordered an enquiry into the operations of both Amazon and Flipkart on multiple counts, including deep discounts and exclusive tie-ups with preferred sellers. But the Karnataka Court put the investigation on hold on February 14 after it was challenged by Amazon.
Flipkart’s petition comes days ahead of the US President Donald Trump’s visit to India and amid the rising concerns about India’s tightening its regulations for foreign investments, especially for the e-commerce sector.
In its writ petition, Flipkart Internet Private Ltd said that although the High Court has ordered a stay on the investigation, the probe order of Competition Commission of India (CCI) “deserves to be set aside”.
“The Impugned Order has directed an investigation without making a determination of the existence of an essential jurisdiction fact i.e. the existence of a ‘prima facie’ case,” said the petition dated February 18. It further said that the order was passed in a pre-determined manner, by treating allegation of abuse of dominance as an anti-competitive agreement.
In its petition, Flipkart questioned the “bona fides” of the Confederation of All India Traders (CAIT), which has been protesting against what it calls “deep discounts” by the e-commerce majors and reached out to the CCI and the government against them.
“The CCI is duty-bound to act with caution, especially, in assessing the bona fides of the informant. In this, the petitioner submits that Confederation of All India Traders has repeatedly indulged in forum shopping against the petitioner by approaching various judicial forums, directly and through its sister entities raising exactly the same baseless allegations against the petitioner,” it said.
The petition aimed to quash the probe said, “Such an order exposes responsible corporate entities … to the rigors of an intrusive investigation prejudicially affecting not only its credibility and reputation but also its commercial prospects.”
Indian retailers accuse both the e-commerce giants of violating the local laws by loosing billions of dollars to fund deep discounts and discriminating against small sellers. However, both Amazon and Flipkart have denied the allegations.
The anti-trust body had in January had ordered an enquiry into the operations of both Amazon and Flipkart on multiple counts, including deep discounts and exclusive tie-ups with preferred sellers.
(With input from agencies)