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Delhi HC refuses to give interim relief to Google

The judge posted the matter for Monday after noting that the September 8 order of the CCI was not on record and she would need to read it before passing any orders.
The reports said Google was guilty of abusing its dominant position with Android to stifle competition to its Play Store.(Reuters Photo)
Updated on Sep 25, 2021 02:01 AM IST
By Richa Banka, Hindustan Times, New Delhi

The Delhi high court on Friday refused to grant interim relief to Google against further media leaks of “confidential” business information.

The judge posted the matter for Monday after noting that the September 8 order of the CCI was not on record and she would need to read it before passing any orders.

The court was hearing a plea by Google against the leak of sensitive information including revenue, payments made to partners, key agreements with phone makers, and market shares to the press from an ongoing investigation by the Competition Commission of India (CCI) into its agreements with phone companies using its Android OS.

The company’s plea came after details of the investigation by CCI’s Director general (DG) were reported in some sections of the media. The reports said Google was guilty of abusing its dominant position with Android to stifle competition to its Play Store.

Justice Rekha Palli expressed displeasure after a submission by Additional Solicitor General (ASG) N Venkatraman who said that one Google official wrote to the CCI Chairperson threatening legal action against “those who may have facilitated the unlawful release of the DG report”.

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“Advise your client. Just because he is there… he should know that if you want to function in a country, he has to know the law. I don’t appreciate this... If he felt so strongly, he should have addressed the letter to the registrar (of CCI),” Justice Palli told Google’s counsel while posting the matter for September 27.

On Thursday, Google moved the high court seeking an ex-parte injunction directing CCI to ensure that there is no further publication of any part of the DG report.

The plea sought that CCI write to all media outlets or others that claim to have a copy of the DG Report or have reported on it requesting them to return all copies and materials in relation to the case and to confirm to CCI that they have destroyed all written or electronic copies.

Additionally, it has also sought that an order of September 8, passed by CCI rejecting Google’s plea to reconsider the confidentiality issue, be set aside.

Opposing this plea, CCI, through ASG N Venkatraman, told the court that the plea was “misplaced”, and an attempt to “frustrate” and “thwart” the ongoing probe . The watchdog refuted all allegations of the leak and said that no evidence has been produced to show that CCI leaked the report.

“There are accusations against a government body and there is not a word (in Google’s affidavit) showing when and how it was done... They are trying to frustrate the proceedings. If they are aggrieved, they should file a suit against (the media),” he said.

Senior advocate Abhishek Manu Singhvi, appearing for Google, said the leaks happened while the report was in CCI’s custody and that it is the body’s statutory duty to protect confidential information.

“Please see the habitual defaulter. Everyday leakage is happening... Give a dog a bad name and hang him by selective leakage,” the senior lawyer said, urging the court to pass an order protecting his client from further prejudice.

He contended that CCI order’s of September was passed without following the principles of natural justice.

“Let them say till Monday they will not allow further leak,” said the senior counsel.

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