Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Tuesday said inquiries (by CCI’s investigation arm) are currently underway against several big tech firms such as Amazon, Flipkart, Zomato, Swiggy, Apple, WhatsApp, Facebook (Meta), Google and BookMyShow.

She was replying to a Rajya Sabha question posed by Aneel Prasad Hegde on whether the government was aware of the fact that such companies indulge in anti-competitive practices in the country. The reply assumes significance in light of the official amendments moved by the government to the Competition (Amendment) Bill, 2022, to empower the CCI to levy anti-trust penalties based on the “global turnover” of the erring enterprises from ‘all the products and services’.

It is also significant as the CCI had in October last year penalised Google for its alleged anti-competitive conduct in the Android case and the Google Play Store policies case.

These ongoing inquiries by the CCI’s investigation arm, coupled with the new government proposal in the Competition (Amendment) Bill, 2022, spells trouble for big tech as they could now face potential penalties indexed to their global turnover, competition law experts said.

The CCI, after conducting inquiries in three matters, has passed orders under Section 27 of the Competition Act, 2002, in the matter related to Google on January 31, 2018, and October 20, 2022, and October 25, 2022, the Minister said in her written reply. In the matter related to MakeMyTrip-Go and OYO, an order was passed on October 19, 2022, regarding allegation of contravention of the provisions of Section 3 and 4 of the Competition Act.

Appeals have also been filed against these orders passed by the CCI, Sitharaman added.

The Minister’s reply came on a day when the Lok Sabha was to take up the passage for the Competition (Amendment) Bill, 2022. However, it was not taken up due to adjournments and is now likely to be taken up on Wednesday.