New Delhi: Google has paid a penalty of Rs 1,337.76 crore imposed by the Competition Commission of India (CCI) in the Android case. The CCI had imposed the penalty on Google in October 2022 for allegedly exploiting its dominant position in the Android market. This penalty payment is a significant development, as it is likely the first time a Big Tech giant has paid a penalty to the Indian regulators, and comes as the government aims to bring a new Digital India Act. The penalty amount has been deposited in the Consolidated Fund of India, within the 30-day deadline given by the National Company Law Appellate Tribunal (NCLAT) in its order.
Google had earlier announced that it would comply with the CCI’s directives for Android. The CCI had directed Google to make significant changes for India, including updating the Android compatibility requirements to introduce changes for partners to build non-compatible or forked variants, and allowing developers to offer users the option to choose an alternative billing system alongside Google Play’s billing system when purchasing in-app digital content through user choice billing.
In response to Google’s announcement of implementing its new Google Play payments policy, the Alliance of Digital India Foundation (ADIF) had expressed deep concern over the policy change and demanded that the new policies must be put on hold, since Google charging a nearly 30 per cent service fee on app developers will prove to be a significant blow to the Indian startup ecosystem.
This penalty payment by Google comes after a Supreme Court bench affirmed the NCLAT order, declining to grant interim relief to Google, and directed the NCLAT to dispose of Google’s appeal by March 31, and granted Google seven days to deposit 10 per cent of the Rs 1,337.76 crore penalty imposed by the CCI.
It is worth noting that Google had alleged that the CCI copy-pasted parts of a European court order without examining associated evidence in India. The CCI has also imposed a penalty of Rs 936.44 crore on Google in a separate case for abusing its dominant position with respect to its Play Store policies.
The impact of Google’s penalty payment on the economy is yet to be determined, but it is likely to have some effect. The penalty payment will add to the Consolidated Fund of India, and may result in some level of redistribution of funds by the government. Additionally, the penalties imposed on Google may have an impact on the Indian startup ecosystem, which is still growing and developing. It remains to be seen how the government and other stakeholders will respond to this penalty payment, and whether it will result in any changes to regulations or policies in the future.