Amazon.com’s India unit filed a writ petition in the Karnataka high court on Monday seeking a stay on the probe ordered by the country’s antitrust regulator against the company for alleged violations of competition law.
In its petition, Amazon said that the Competition Commission of India’s (CCI) order was passed “without application of mind” and would cause irreparable loss to the reputation of the company if an investigation is allowed.
The CCI order on 14 January came a day before Amazon founder Jeff Bezos arrived in India to attend a meeting with small business owners, where he pledged to invest an additional $1 billion to get such companies online. CCI said it would probe alleged malpractices such as offering of deep discounts, preferred listings, promotion of private labels and exclusive partnerships with phone brands.
The increasing scrutiny on Amazon comes amid Indian traders and small store owners protesting against online retailers such as Amazon and Walmart-controlled Flipkart over alleged predatory practices that they claim have hurt sales and eroded margins. For Amazon, India is the most important overseas market and it has committed over $5 billion in the country.
On Monday, Amazon submitted that an “interim stay on the proceedings must be granted as the balance of convenience for stay lies in favour of the petitioner as a bona fide company”.
An Amazon spokesperson declined to comment saying “the matter is sub judice”. An email seeking CCI’s response remained unanswered.
Praveen Khandelwal, secretary general of Confederation of All India Traders, a traders’ body that has led the protests against Amazon, questioned its motive for opposing the probe. “Let the investigation be conducted by CCI, which will make their position clear. The stay application by Amazon is testimony to the fact that something is wrong with its business model.”
The CCI order followed a complaint filed by Delhi Vyapar Mahasangh (DVM). Khandelwal said since a caveat has been filed by DVM in court, Amazon will not be able to get an immediate stay.
This article was first published on livemint.com