Facts
Decision
Comment


The Karnataka High Court has dismissed a challenge filed by Intel Technology India Pvt Ltd and Intel Corporation (collectively, Intel) to an investigation ordered by the Competition Commission of India (CCI). The complaint before the CCI alleged that Intel's warranty policy applies only to products sold by Intel authorised distributors in India and therefore, forecloses parallel importers and resellers.

Facts

Intel challenged the CCI's investigation on the grounds that its decision to investigate Intel was contrary to its decisional practice. Intel argued that CCI had recognised an e-commerce marketplace's right to ban unauthorised dealers from its platform.

Decision

The Court however, dismissed Intel's challenge, holding that the facts of Intel's case were entirely different, as it concerned a manufacturer's refusal to honour warranty from parallel imports, and not the internal decision of an e-commerce marketplace to remove unauthorised dealers. The Court also dismissed Intel's argument that the CCI investigation would cause severe reputational damage, holding that a preliminary inquiry or investigation does not equate to legal injury. It was held that Intel had "unjustifiably secured an interim order that interdicted an inquiry of preliminary nature, for all these years, to the enormous prejudice of public interest", and that the "Writ Petition, besides being premature and absolutely devoid of merits, is an abortive attempt by the petitioners to scuttle the innocuous statutory proceedings of the Commission". The Court, accordingly, imposed exemplary costs of 1 million rupees (approximately $12,602) on Intel.

Comment

Recently, there have been a number of the challenges to the CCI's investigations across Courts is India. This is thus far the first and only instance where a challenge to a CCI investigation has resulted in imposition of costs on the petitioner. The strictures passed signal that Courts in India are unlikely to entertain similar challenges to antitrust investigation in India, filed prematurely or based on frivolous grounds.

For further information on this topic please contact Sonam Mathur or Dinoo Muthappa at TTA by telephone (+91 11 46299999) or email ([email protected] or [email protected]). The TTA website can be accessed at www.tta.in.

Anindita Dutta, associate, assisted in the preparation of this article.