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CAIT may challenge stay on CCI probe against Amazon, Flipkart

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New Delhi, Feb 23, 2020-

Following the Karnataka High Court ordering a stay on the anti-trust probe against e-commerce giants Amazon and Flipkart, the Confederation of All India Traders (CAIT) is likely to file a petition challenging the stay in the Supreme Court in the coming week.

Praveen Khandelwal, National General Secretary of CAIT said that the trade body’s lawyers are currently working on filing a petition.

“I hope by Thursday or Friday we will be able to file the petition. The lawyers are already working on it,” he said.

“We can go to Supreme Court, because that is the right forum as the High Court has given its order. Most likely, it will be Supreme Court,” Khandelwal told.

On February 14, the Karnataka High Court ordered a stay on the CCI probe into violation of competition laws by e-commerce majors. The order came on the writ petition filed by Amazon seeking a stay on the investigation.

The High Court was of the view that the ongoing investigation by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) should be completed first. Last year, the ED initiated insvestigation against both Amazon and Flipkart for alleged violation of the foreign exchange law.

The anti-trust body had in January ordered an enquiry into the operations of both Amazon and Flipkart on multiple counts, including deep discounts and exclusive tie-ups with preferred sellers.

Further, days after the Karnataka High Court ordered a stay, Walmart-backed Flipkart also moved the court urging it to set aside the probe. In its writ petition, Flipkart Internet Private Ltd said that although the High Court has ordered a stay on the investigation, the probe order of the Competition Commission of India (CCI) “deserves to be set aside”.

It said that the CCI directed an investigation without the existence of a “prima facie” case. It further said that the order was passed in a pre-determined manner, by treating allegations of abuse of dominance as an anti-competitive agreement.

In its petition, Flipkart also questioned the “bona fides” of CAIT, which has been protesting against what it calls “deep discounts” by the e-commerce majors and reached out to the CCI and the government against them.

“The CCI is duty bound to act with caution, especially, in assessing the bona fides of the informant. In this, the petitioner submits that Confederation of All India Traders has repeatedly indulged in forum shopping against the petitioner by approaching various judicial forums, directly and through its sister entities raising exactly the same baseless allegations against the petitioner,” it said.

The organisation has time and again written to and met Commerce Minister Piyush Goyal, among others, to register their protest against what it describes as deep discounting and unfair means by both the online platforms, which has impacted the offline traders. CAIT has blamed both the platforms of violating the norms for foreign direct investment (FDI).

The traders body had staged protests across India during the visit of Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos to India last month.  (Agency)

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