New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Monday refused to entertain pleas of e-commerce giants Amazon and Flipkart, challenging Karnataka High Court’s order that permitted the Competition Commission of India (CCI) to carry out preliminary investigation into the alleged anti-competitive practices. The apex court has asked Amazon and Walmart-owned Flipkart to volunteer for the antitrust investigation instead of challenging it.Also Read - Flipkart Big Billion Days Sale 2021 To Start From October 7: Check Bank Offers, Deals, More Here

A three-judge bench headed by Chief Justice N V Ramana said that challenging the enquiry is like wanting a notice before the registration of an FIR under the criminal law and asked the e-commerce giants to submit themselves to the probe by the CCI. Also Read - NDA Being Prepared For Admission of Women Cadets, Exams to Start From May: Centre Tells SC

“We expect big organisations like Amazon and Flipkart to offer themselves for the inquiry and you do not want that. You have to submit and enquiry has to be permitted,” noted the Supreme Court bench, which also comprised Justices Vineet Saran and Surya Kant. Also Read - Amazon Bribery Allegations: Company Says 'We Take Them Seriously, Investigate Them Fully'. Full Statement Here

Senior advocate AM Singhvi, appearing for Flipkart, told the top court that the time to respond to the CCI was expiring on August 9 itself, the bench extended the time by four more weeks which was objected to by Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, representing the CCI.

Mehta said that a week should be given to these firms as in COVID times people mostly shop online through these companies.

The Karnataka High Court had on July 23 junked the plea of Amazon-Flipkart against the CCI probe for alleged violations of the competition law. The high court had said that the e-commerce firms had no need to shy away from an inquiry if they were not involved in violations.

“The inquiry cannot be crushed at this stage. If the appellants aren’t involved in violations of any provisions of the competition law, they should not feel shy in facing an inquiry by the Competition Commission of India,” the bench had observed.

It had added that the appeals were devoid of merits and substance and deserved to be dismissed.

The CCI’s January 2020 probe order had followed a complaint by Delhi Vyapar Mahasangh, whose members comprise many traders dealing in smartphones and related accessories.

Challenging the order, the two e-commerce giants had approached the Karnataka High Court but a single-judge bench of Justice PS Dinesh Kumar had dismissed it saying that it would be unwise to prejudge the issues raised by the petitioners in these writ petitions at this stage and scuttle the investigation.

With PTI inputs