(Repeats story published earlier in the global day, with no
change to text.)
* Amazon, Flipkart set to get notices in antitrust case
* India focusing on antitrust cases of digital firms
* Antitrust body has put more officers on tech cases
NEW DELHI, June 15 (Reuters) - India's antitrust watchdog
plans to expedite a restarted probe into allegations of
anti-competitive behavior at Amazon.com Inc and
Walmart Inc's Flipkart, as it intensifies scrutiny of
big-tech firms, two people close to the matter said.
The comments come as major U.S. technology firms including
Twitter Inc and Facebook Inc are at loggerheads
with the government over issues such as data privacy bills and
policies some industry executives have called protectionist.
The Competition Commission of India (CCI) initiated a probe
in January last year on the basis of a complaint alleging Amazon
and Flipkart promoted select sellers on their e-commerce
platforms and that deep discounts stifled competition.
The companies have denied wrongdoing.
Near-immediate legal challenges from the pair stalled the
probe for over a year until a court last week allowed it to
resume, having dismissed arguments that the CCI lacked evidence.
Though Amazon and Flipkart are likely to appeal, the CCI
plans to demand information from them related to the allegations
"as quickly as possible," said one of the people, who declined
to be identified due to the sensitivity of the matter.
The investigation "will be expedited," the person said. Such
investigations in India typically take months to complete.
Amazon declined to comment. Flipkart and the CCI did not
respond to requests for comment.
The CCI is speeding up all cases involving big technology
firms, including by deploying additional officers for some cases
and working to more stringent internal deadlines, said the two
people, who are familiar with the watchdog's thinking.
"Cases involving digital firms are getting a priority at CCI
as they can have significant impact on the economy and Indian
startups," said one of the people.
Last year, the CCI began reviewing https://www.reuters.com/article/us-india-google-antitrust-exclusive-idUKKBN26S1M1
allegations of Google abusing the position of its Android
operating system in the smart TV market, and is likely to soon
order a comprehensive antitrust investigation, the people said.
Google declined to comment.
Such a probe would be the third against Google, with the
Alphabet Inc unit already battling cases relating to
Android as well as its payment app.
The CCI is also investigating practices at MakeMyTrip Ltd
The probe into Amazon and Flipkart is restarting at a time
when both are battling accusations from offline retailers that
their complex business structures allow them to circumvent
foreign investment rules for e-commerce.
In February, a Reuters investigation http://reut.rs/2OCOT2W
based on Amazon documents showed the e-tailer for years gave
preferential treatment to a small group of sellers on its Indian
platform. While arguing to restart the probe, the CCI told a
court in Karnataka state that the Reuters report corroborated
Amazon, which has said it "does not give preferential
treatment to any seller," told the court https://www.reuters.com/world/india/amazon-tells-indian-court-reuters-story-is-no-reason-resume-antitrust-probe-2021-04-15
it disagreed with the Reuters report.
The antitrust body will examine the Reuters report and could
use it as part of its investigation, one of the people said.
"The CCI's plan to move faster on such cases is in line with
other antitrust regulators globally that are investigating
digital markets like e-commerce and online search, which are
dynamic and evolving fast," said an Indian antitrust lawyer who
represents tech firms.
(Reporting by Aditya Kalra in New Delhi; Editing by Christopher