Google files writ petition with Karnataka HC against CCI on Play Store probe

Google sought more time for replying to the queries of CCI on the billing policy of its Play Store and sought other changes which can ensure a fair probe.
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Google has filed a writ petition with the Karnataka High Court, seeking more time to respond to the queries posed by the Competition Commission of India (CCI) regarding its billing and commission policies of the Play Store.

In a statement, a Google spokesperson said, “We have filed a writ in Karnataka High Court regarding the interim relief application in the Google Play probe by the CCI, seeking to move forward in line with established due process principles. We respect the CCI’s investigative process and will continue to engage cooperatively and constructively in the interest of a fair investigation."

This development follows complaints from a certain section of the Indian startup ecosystem on the billing structure of Google Play Store. The Alliance of Digital India Foundation (ADIF) had filed a petition with the CCI in October which sought interim relief from the billing policy of Google Play Store.

CCI had asked Google to file its responses by December 31, 2021.

However, in other developments, Google had extended its deadline of complying with its new billing and commission structure policy to October 2022 from the earlier date of March 2022.

Meanwhile, the ADIF in a statement termed the writ petition by Google as yet another delay tactic.

“Our application for interim relief was filed with CCI on the 6th of October. After nearly three months, it has to be noted that till date Google has not submitted either their response or any information. The only action that has been there on the part of Google so far has been requests for more time and information,” the statement said.

People aware of these developments said the writ petition of Google was necessitated as it felt there was no urgency in the matter given the extension of the date for complying with new regulations by the app developers.

Further, the writ petition has also sought the identity of the anonymous complainants to understand their concerns better and it also wants a judiciary member of the panel to enable a fair hearing.

CCI is of the view that Google Play Store policy on commission and billing was anti-competitive as it restricted the ability of the developers to select their choice of the payment system.

Given the criticism against the billing policy of the Play Store, Google had extended the deadline and also initiated a few changes to help developers with necessary product support for recurring payments.

Edited by Kanishk Singh