Karnataka HC stays CCI probe order against Amazon

Amazon approached Karnataka HC on Monday challenging CCI probe

Amazon rep Reuters Representational image | Reuters

In an interim relief to the world's largest online retailer, the Karnataka High Court on Friday stayed a probe order issued by the Competition Commission of India against Amazon last month. The stay, ordered by single-judge bench of Justice P.S. Dinesh Kumar, came after Amazon approached the Karnataka HC on Monday seeking "quashing and setting aside" of the CCI's probe order dated January 13.

In addition to Amazon, the fair trade regulator had also ordered a probe against e-commerce Flipkart. Both the companies were alleged of malpractices, including deep discounting and tie-ups with preferred sellers on their platforms. The order followed a complaint filed by Delhi Vyapar Mahasangh, whose members comprise many traders dealing in smartphones and related accessories.

However, with Friday's stay, the probe into the matter will be stayed until the matter is heard finally. Senior Advocates Sajan Poovayya and Gopal Subramanium had appeared for Amazon. 

Terming the interim stay “unfortunate & unexpected”, CAIT National Secretary General Praveen Khandelwal  said the trader's body, alongwith the Delhi Vyapar Mahasangh, will file an appeal against the high court order. "The CAIT will push with the Union Government to speed up the ED investigation. In this context a CAIT delegation will soon meet Commerce Minister Piyush Goyal and Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman," he added. 

In its plea, Amazon  requested the court to provide relief based on "facts and circumstances of the case in the interest of justice." 

In its petition, Amazon said the CCI order had been passed "without application of mind" and would cause irreparable loss/injury to the goodwill/reputation of the company if an investigation is allowed.

It added that the order will cause "serious prejudice" against Amazon and its findings are "perverse, arbitrary, untenable in law".