New Delhi: Tech giant Google has threatened to sue the Competition Commission of India (CCI) over the "leak of a confidential report" linked to an investigation, the antitrust authority told Delhi High Court.
The Delhi high court on Friday allowed urgent listing on Saturday of the plea filed by Google over the 'leak' of the report, as per a LiveLaw report.
Last week, reports surfaced claiming that a CCI investigation found Google guilty of stifling competition in the mobile operating system. The exchange unfolded in the court days after the reports said that Google abused the dominant position of its Android operating system in India, using its "huge financial muscle" to illegally hurt competitors, citing a two-year probe by the CCI, as per an NDTV report.
"We have received a communication from a very senior officer of Google from California threatening the CCI Chairman that they will sue us. They are threatening us. If there is a leak by media, they can go and sue the media," the CCI told the court today.
"We are a government body. What shows that we leaked the report? Also what is the confidential information of Google that has been leaked through these media reports?" it further asked, alleging an attempt by the tech giant to "frustrate the proceedings", and stressing on the dismissal of the petition.
"In the next 10 days or so, the confidential and non-confidential reports will be ready and a copy will be served to them asking for their response. That's the natural justice process. They want a stay on the proceedings, which is against natural justice," the court was told by the CCI.
Senior lawyer Abhishek Manu Singhvi, representing Google, told the court, "The confidential inquiry report has been leaked to media even before we have been served a copy."
"Also, there is (a) complete denial of natural justice. Yesterday, after our plea in the high court, we have received a communication from (the) CCI that it's a serious matter and we will order an enquiry into the leak."
To this, Justice Rekha Pali replied: "It's okay. Even before our orders are uploaded, they are reported by media." Singhvi, however, underlined, "It's different here. There is a confidentiality clause for this inquiry."
As Justice Palli stressed, "if there is a confidentiality clause, it has to be maintained", the CCI replied, "Wherever the Google wanted confidentiality - like the signatories, internal data on YouTube content, search queries, App downloads etc - we have maintained it. In fact we are helping them here... but they are accusing us." The hearing will resume on Monday.
Google, in a statement, said it aims to prevent any further unlawful disclosures of confidential findings by the investigative arm of Competition Commission of India (CCI).
The spokesperson added that the company cooperated fully and maintained confidentiality throughout the investigative process.
In 2019, Google appeared to have misused its dominant position in India and reduced the ability of device manufacturers to opt for alternate versions of its Android mobile operating system, Indian officials found before ordering a wider probe in an antitrust case, according to media report.
The CCI had launched a probe in April 2019 against Google for its alleged abuse of Android's dominant position to block rivals, but the contents of the directive detailing the initial assessment upon which that investigation was ordered have not been previously revealed.
(To receive our E-paper on whatsapp daily, please click here. We permit sharing of the paper's PDF on WhatsApp and other social media platforms.)