The Indian government has affirmed that the Competition Commission of India (CCI) has begun its investigation into Google's alleged anti-competitive practices. As a per a written reply submitted in Parliament, Minister of State for Corporate Affairs, R. P. N. Singh affirmed that the Ministry had received information that Google's practices have been found to be in violation of section 4 of the Competition Act, 2002. The section deals with a market player abusing its dominant position. When asked if the CCI had begun its probe following a complaint filed by NGO CUTS International, the minister replied, “The CCI, which is quasi-judicial regulator body has ordered an investigation in the matter of Director General, CCI”.
Google's competitiveness probed
In May this year, the CCI initiated an antitrust investigation into Google's AdWords program, acting on a complaint filed by the popular matrimonial portal BharatMatrimony.com against Google, pertaining to its AdWords service. BharatMatrimony.com stated that Google “abused its dominance by engaging in discriminatory and retaliatory practices relating to AdWords”. The complaint said that Google AdWords sold keywords related to BharatMatrimony.com to the website's rival portals such as Shaadi.com.
In a statement issued thereafter, BharatMatrimony.com said, “We have requested the Commission to investigate Google's practices and impose remedial measures to protect competition”. The commission can impose fines on companies found guilty of violating competition law. S.L.Bunker, Secretary of the commission, said that the entire investigation would take a couple of months to conclude. He further added that the commission was investigating the information provided by the matchmaking website. However, Google claimed that it had not received any such communication from the CCI. Google declared, “Though competition is always a click away, we understand that with success comes scrutiny. We have not received any communication from the CCI, but we're always happy to answer questions about our business, and we're confident that our products are compliant with competition law in India”.
On a related note, this year the CCI, a seven-member body formed to keep anti-competitive acts at bay found a defaulter in Apple, the manufacturer of the iPad and the iPhone. Apple’s sales practices were questioned by the committee, and Apple was reprimanded for practising unfair competition in the Indian market. According to the report prepared by the committee, Apple's moves in a market as competitive as India were seemingly unfair, in the sense that its products are made available only through a few, handpicked service providers, in addition to their own signature stores.