India rules Google abused its dominant position in web search, imposes $21.17 million fine
India’s antitrust watchdog, Competition Commission of India (CCI) on Thursday imposed a fine of $21.17 million (approx Rs. 136 crore) on the US Internet giant Google for abusing its dominant position in the local search market by biasing search results in favor of its own services, reports CNBC.
The ruling brings to an end a probe started by CCI in 2012 after complaints in India were lodged against Google that included matchmaking website, Bharat Matrimony and the non-profit consumer protection group, Consumer Unity and Trust Society (CUTS).
The CCI says its investigation found that Google placed its commercial flight search function on its own flight search page, thereby directing web users to its search results page rather than other smaller competitors’ page. By doing this, Google not only prevented businesses from gaining market access but they also forced its products on users of general search devices.
“Google was found to be indulging in practices of search bias and by doing so, it causes harm to its competitors as well as to users,” the CCI said in a 190-page order.
“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 Commission) finds it appropriate to impose a penalty on Google at the rate of 5 percent of their average total revenue generated from India operations from different business segments for the financial years 2013, 2014 and 2015.”
An unidentified Google spokesperson told that the company was reviewing the order imposed by the CCI.
Google said it was “always focused on innovating to support the evolving needs of our users.”
“The CCI has confirmed that, on the majority of issues it examined, our conduct complies with Indian competition laws.
“We are reviewing the narrow concerns identified by the Commission and will assess our next step,” the company official said.
The law firm representing Bharat Matrimony said that the CCI’s order provided welcome closure after a six-year long battle with the internet giant.
Naval Satarawala Chopra, a partner at law firm Shardul Amarchand who represented Bharat Matrimony in the case said in a statement, “The Google decision is a landmark decision. Its (CCI) investigation report finding Google to be dominant and to have abused its dominance preceded that of any authority. Its final order is in line with the order of the European Commission.”
However, Chopra was shocked by the small amount of the fine imposed on the search giant, which is equal to about 5% of Google’s average annual revenues in India.
“Whilst finding Google to have abused its dominant position, the CCI has nonetheless exercised restraint in recognizing the dynamic nature of online markets and not found Google guilty of every allegation,” Chopra told.
Google has 60 days to pay the fine for “for infringing anti-trust conduct”, the CCI said. The order was passed by a majority of 4-2 with two members not agreeing to the order.
The author Kavita Iyer
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