The Supreme Court on Friday dismissed pleas made by Whatsapp and its parent firm Meta (Facebook) seeking a stay of the Competition Commission of India’s (CCI) probe into their privacy policies. A panel comprised of Justices MR Shah and Sudhanshu Dhulia dismissed WhatsApp and Meta’s pleas appealing the ruling of the Delhi High Court division bench that declined to halt the CCI probe.
The bench made the following observations in the following order:
“The CCI is an independent authority to consider any violation of the provision of the Competition Act 2002. When having prima facie opined that it is a case of violation of 2002 Act and thereafter when the proceedings are initiated by the CCI, it cannot be said that the initiation of the proceedings of the CCI are wholly without jurisdiction. The precedent of the Supreme Court has held that the proceedings before the CCI are required to completed be at the earliest. In view of the above, the CCI cannot be restrained from proceeding further with the enquiry/investigation for the alleged violation of the Competition Act. All the contentions available to the parties are kept open. Any observation made by the High Court be considered as tentative/prima facie”.
“CCI is an independent statutory body. Their proceedings cannot be stopped”, Justice Shah said.
“I am not saying the proceedings should be stopped. I am just saying don’t pass the final orders”, Sibal replied.
“We don’t know what will be the outcome of their investigation, you approach the CCI and make the request”, Justice Shah stated.
At this point, Senior Advocate Mukul Rohatgi, who was also representing Meta, argued that the CCI lacked jurisdiction. “Allow the probe and inquiry to continue. Then we’ll leave the final order to CCI “, Justice Shah stated one again.
Speaking on behalf of the CCI, Additional Solicitor General of India N Venkatraman stated that the authority is simply investigating the problem of abuse of dominance and is not making any constitutional decisions. As a result, he claims there is no overlap with the Supreme Court proceedings.