NRAI's allegations
CCI's preliminary analysis

The conflict between online food delivery platforms and the National Restaurant Association of India (NRAI) is about to reach boiling point. The NRAI filed allegations of anticompetitive practices against the offending parties (OPs) – Bundl Technologies Private Limited (Swiggy) and Zomato Limited – with the Competition Commission of India (CCI).(1) On 4 April 2022, the CCI ordered an investigation against Zomato and Swiggy to determine whether their practices have caused or are causing appreciable adverse effects on competition (AAEC).

NRAI's allegations

Broadly, the NRAI alleged that the OPs had imposed vertical anticompetitive restraints on its restaurant partners (RPs).

The OPs act as intermediaries by enabling end consumers to use their applications to order food from the RPs. Once an order is placed and is accepted by the RP, it is delivered to the consumer through the OPs' delivery partners.

The prominent competitive concerns alleged against the OPs regarding this business model are briefly set out below:

  • bundling – it was alleged that the OPs bundle their food ordering services with food delivery services, owing to which the RPs:
    • are forced to utilise the delivery service offered by the OPs; and
    • are unable to self-deliver the ordered food or use any other third-party delivery service;
  • platform neutrality – it was alleged that the OPs operate their own cloud kitchen brands, akin to private labels. Given that the margins received by the OPs from the private labels are based on the volume of sales, this creates an inherent conflict of interest. Such conflicts violate the OPs' platform neutrality as they are incentivised to promote their private labels over other RPs; and
  • price parity – it was alleged that OPs force the RPs to include broad clauses that restrict them from charging lower prices or providing better terms through:
  • their websites;
  • offline stores;
  • other platforms; or
  • other sales channels.

From a competition law standpoint, as all the above allegations pertain to vertical restraints, demonstrating that the OPs have market strength was essential for establishing that such restraints had caused or are causing AAEC in India. Accordingly, the NRAI argued that the OPs exercise considerable market power owing to the large pan-India market shares of Zomato (approximately 52%) and Swiggy (approximately 43%). Apart from market shares, it was alleged that significant market power also existed owing to the considerable network effects of such platforms, coupled with the negligible countervailing buyer power of the RPs. Additionally, it was alleged that customer data collected by the OPs created significant entry barriers for new platforms.

CCI's preliminary analysis

Swiggy argued that if it did not control the delivery, it would not be possible for it to ensure last mile delivery or resolve consumer complaints. Therefore, consumers would shift to rival platforms, citing poor delivery services. Zomato put forward similar arguments, demonstrating deficient consumer satisfaction and negative reviews when it had allowed the RPs to undertake self-delivery prior to 2018.

The CCI agreed that "bundling" ordering and delivery services is an important feature of the OPs' business models. Further, the CCI noted that consumers themselves view ordering and delivering as a composite service. Thus, such services could not be considered as "bundled" by the OPs and the CCI deemed this practice to be non-problematic.

Platform neutrality
Zomato clarified that it does not own any of the RPs listed on its platform or any cloud kitchens or private labels. It submitted that its common infrastructure service under the Access Kitchen Programme had been shut down by the end of financial year 2021. On the other hand, Swiggy submitted that its cloud kitchens are merely commercial collaborations with certain RPs, and that no preferential treatment had been given to them.

However, the CCI sided with the NRAI by stating that there is an inherent conflict of interest. The CCI observed that the OPs are vertically linked with the RPs, the private labels and the RPs operating through the OPs' cloud kitchens. As the OPs' revenue from their linked cloud kitchens is based on sales volumes, it was noted that the OPs had sufficient incentive to leverage their platforms in favour of their private labels or the RPs operating in their cloud kitchens. Accordingly, the CCI ordered a further investigation into this conduct.

Price parity
Zomato clarified that it only requires its RPs to maintain parity between the rates on its platform and the RPs' menu cards, and that it did not force the RPs to maintain parity with other platforms. However, the NRAI clarified that this change had only been introduced after its allegations had been filed. As such, prior to the filing of the allegations, price parity requirements had been enforced by Zomato with respect to all sales channels.

On the other hand, Swiggy claimed that it had imposed parity requirements as it had received complaints from consumers who found discrepancies between the prices listed on Swiggy's platform and the RPs' own menu. In this regard, the NRAI provided evidence which made it clear that Swiggy has dedicated teams to check and enforce the price parity requirements across all channels.

Accordingly, the CCI ordered an investigation into this conduct, observing that such clauses may result in:

  • disincentivising the platforms to compete;
  • inflated commissions;
  • increased final prices for consumers; and
  • the entry of new low-cost platforms being prevented.

With respect to the OPs' conduct with their RPs, the NRAI levelled further allegations regarding:

  • the delayed payment cycle;
  • the imposition of one-sided clauses in agreements;
  • the charging of exorbitant commission; and
  • arbitrary deductions.

However, the CCI dismissed such allegations without citing coherent reasons.


The CCI's tryst with food delivery platforms originated in its market study on e-commerce, which was released in January 2020. Here, it discussed the conduct of such platforms with respect to platform neutrality, platform-to-business contracts and deep discounting.(2) At the same time, Zomato's acquisition of Uber Eats caught the attention of the CCI, despite benefitting from the small target exemption.(3) Next, in June 2020, the CCI assessed allegations against Swiggy abusing its dominance by charging unfair prices to its customers. The CCI dismissed such allegations prima facie, noting that Swiggy had no role to play in the pricing of the products offered by the RPs on the platform.(4) Thus, this case marks the CCI's foray into investigating alleged anticompetitive practices of food delivery platforms and evaluating their market power.

With respect to this case, the NRAI asserted that the relevant market could be defined as "restaurant marketplaces with delivery services in various hyperlocal areas across India". However, the CCI did not delineate the exact relevant market, citing the Supreme Court's judgment in CCI v Coordination Committee of Artist and Technicians of West Bengal Film and Television Industry.(5) The director general may still need to identify the relevant market(s) to evaluate market power of the OPs, which is essential to evaluate vertical restraints. Further, delineation of the relevant market(s) may lead to multiple hyperlocal areas, as the OPs' market power might vary in different areas.

The NRAI also alleged that the OPs engaged in "data masking", due to which the RPs received no data or information about the end consumers to whom their food is delivered. Data sharing in a fair and transparent manner is often a point of contention when it comes to digital intermediaries and platforms. Further, access to granular information on consumer ordering patterns and usage can lead to significant efficiencies for the OPs, as they can utilise it to optimally operate private labels and cloud kitchens. They can also pre-empt order quantities and reduce delivery time, as evidenced by Zomato's recently launched 10-minute delivery service.(6)

Thus, the OPs could use this data to create entry barriers for both competing platforms and RPs operating in the upstream market. Monetisation of data in this form is not unique to this market but is a potential issue for the entire e-commerce ecosystem. While the CCI did not directly deal with such allegations at this stage, it has an opportunity to lay down a framework for balancing data leveraging and data sharing to maximise competition and consumer welfare.

For further information on this topic please contact Anisha Chand, Soham Banerjee or Yatharth V Singh or at Khaitan & Co by telephone (+91 11 4151 5454) or email ([email protected], [email protected]). The Khaitan & Co website can be accessed at


(1) National Restaurant Association of India v Zomato Limited and Bundl Technologies Private Limited (Case No. 16 of 2021), order dated 4 April 2022.

(2) "Market Study on E-Commerce in India", CCI.

(3) "Zomato-Uber Eats deal under review by CCI", Hindustan Times, 23 May 2020.

(4) Case No. 39 of 2019, order dated 19 June 2020 (available here).

(5) MA No. 490 of 2017 in CA No. 6691 of 2014, order dated 7 May 2018. For further information, see "SC clarifies: Delineation of relevant market not mandatory for all allegations of anti-competitive agreements".

(6) "How Zomato's 10-minute delivery actually works", Deccan Herald, 23 March 2022.