In a significant move, Google has paid the entire penalty amount of ₹ 1,337.76 crore imposed by the Competition Commission of India (CCI) in its October 20 ruling last year in the Android case.

The entire penalty amount of ₹ 1,337.76 crore has been deposited in the Consolidated Fund of India within the thirty-day time period stipulated by the National Company Law Appellate Tribunal (NCLAT), sources familiar with the development said.

It maybe recalled that NCLAT had on March 29 upheld the penalty of ₹ 1,337.76 crore imposed by CCI on Google for its anti-competitive conduct in the Android ecosystem.

The NCLAT Bench, comprising Ashok Bhushan, Chairperson and Alok Srivastava, Member (Technical), had in its 189 pages order given 30 days time for the tech giant to pay the fine and implement the order. 

NCLAT order also brought some partial victory for the tech giant with four of the ten non-monetary conditions imposed by CCI getting set aside by the Appellate Tribunal.

The four directions set aside related to allowing users to uninstall the preloaded apps, allowing sideloaded apps, sharing of APIs, and allowing of third-party app stores in Play Store.

NCLAT had set aside the CCI’s direction on allowing third-party Apps store in Play Store. CCI’s direction to allow the uninstallation of Google apps was also set aside. Further, the CCI directions to Google to give its API to third-party was also set aside.

Also read: CCI will explore “legal options” on recent NCLAT ruling in Android case, says ASG Venkataraman

However, Google had to comply with six non-monetary directions within a 30-day time period. It is still not clear if the tech giant will prefer an appeal against NCLAT order on this count. 

The six non-monetary directions that Google had to comply with in the 30 days window from March 29 are: OEMs shall not be restrained from (a) choosing from Google’s proprietary applications to be pre-installed and should not be forced to pre-install a bouquet of applications and (b) deciding the placement of pre-installed apps on their smart devices; licensing of Play Store to OEMs shall not be linked with the requirement of pre-installing Google applications; 

Google shall not offer any monetary/other incentives to, or enter into any arrangement with, OEMs for ensuring exclusivity for its search services.

Google shall also not impose anti-fragmentation obligations on OEMs, OEMs should be permitted to manufacture/ develop Android forks-based smart devices for themselves. Additionally, Google shall not incentivise or obligate OEMs for not selling smart devices based on Android forks; and it shall allow users, during the initial device set-up, to choose their default search engine for all search entry points.

Also read: India’s Antitrust Law increases penalty, seeks deposit pre-appeal

Android appeal case 

The Android appeal case before the NCLAT was a high-profile legal battle that had been ongoing for several years. The case centres around allegations of anti-competitive practices by Google, particularly in relation to its Android operating system.

It is an important legal battle that highlights the issue of anti-competitive practices by tech giants, such as Google. 

Dominant Player

NCLAT had in its March 29 verdict largely confirmed the Competition Commission of India’s order of October 20 last year against Google. NCLAT had found that Google is a dominant player and has abused its dominant position by imposing various restrictions under its agreements with original equipment manufacturers (OEMs)—Mobile Application Distribution Agreement (MADA), Revenue Sharing Agreement (RSA), and Anti Fragmentation Agreement (AFA).