No Interim Relief For Startups As Delhi HC Refuses Stay On Google’s New Billing System

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According to recent news, the Delhi High Court has refused to grant immediate relief to the Alliance of Digital India Foundation (ADIF), which is challenging Google’s new user choice billing system. The court has asked the parties involved to file additional submissions before it by Tuesday evening, ahead of the April 26 deadline for the implementation of the new payment system. ADIF had sought the court’s direction for the Competition Commission of India (CCI) to adjudicate on the matter or to keep the implementation of the new billing system in abeyance till the competition watchdog reaches a consensus on the complaint that alleges flouting of antitrust norms by Google. Under the new system, app developers will have to pay a commission of 11-26% as against 15%-30% earlier. The ADIF has also alleged that the new billing system mandates submission of transaction data of users to Google, including those who opt for third-party payment options. The CCI has been asked to intervene urgently in the matter. Google has contended that the competition watchdog is not empowered to issue an interim stay on the implementation of the user choice billing policy.

Section 42 of the Competition Act states that once an enquiry by the Competition Commission of India (CCI) has led to a final order, no interim relief can be granted by any court. Google’s counsel Sandeep Sethi cited this section to argue that the Delhi High Court cannot entertain an interim plea to stay the implementation of Google’s new user choice billing system, as the matter is still pending before the CCI and has not yet led to a final order. Sethi also referred to the October 2022 antitrust ruling of Google to support his argument.