India’s Competition Commission has imposed a fine of Rs 136 crore (~$21.1 million) on internet giant Google for unfair business practices in the Indian market for online search, reported Times of India.
After a detailed probe on the complaints filed back in 2012, Competition Commission of India (CCI) found that Google is abusing its dominant position in the local search market for online general web search and web search advertising services. CCI, through a majority order, said the penalty is being imposed on Google for “infringing anti-trust conduct”.
“Google was leveraging its dominance in the market for online general web search, to strengthen its position in the market for online syndicate search services. The competitors were denied access to the online search syndication services market due to such a conduct, writes the CCI in a press release.
On the CCI ruling, a Google spokesperson said the company is “reviewing the narrow concerns identified by the Commission and will assess our next steps”.
The CCI said it has given thoughtful consideration on the submissions made by Google on issue of penalty and found it appropriate to impose a fine.
The ruling has come on complaints filed in 2012 by Matrimony.com, an Indian matchmaking website, and Consumer Unity & Trust Society (CUTS) against Google LLC, Google India Pvt Ltd and Google Ireland Ltd.
The penalty amount of Rs 135.86 crore was calculated based on Google’s revenue from its operations in India only, and equates to around 5% of its turnover in the market.
Interestingly, out of four members of CCI committee, who ruled this fine imposement orders on Google, two members have showed disagreement saying that they don’t find Google in violation of Section 4 of the Competition Act. The section 4 pertains to abuse of dominant position.
Notably, this is one of the rare cases globally where Google has been penalised for unfair business ways, even though it has been under probe in several countries.
To recall, in June 2017, European Union’s Competition Commission had slapped Google with a record breaking $2.7 billion antitrust fine relating to the Google Shopping search comparison service and manipulating search results.
In India, in one more case — back in 2009 — Indian politician and Rajya Sabha member Brinda Karat demanded to Ban “Google India” and arrest of the chief of Google India over showing the advertisements of prenatal gender determination or preconception sex selection and thus violating laws of India under the Pre-Natal Diagnostic Techniques (PNDT) Act.