An Indian court dismissed appeals by Amazon and Walmart’s Flipkart to end an antitrust investigation, Reuters reported.
India’s High Court Justice P.S. Dinesh Kumar in Karnataka on Friday (June 11) rejected the petitions by both retail giants and would not grant either company relief.
“It would be unwise to prejudge the issues … at this stage and scuttle the investigation,” Kumar wrote in his 51-page order, per Reuters.
The ruling clears a path to circle back to the original probe, which was sidelined in February of last year, Abir Roy, a lawyer for the Indian trader group Delhi Vyapar Mahasangh, told Reuters. He added that both firms will likely appeal the decision.
When India’s competition watchdog — the Competition Commission of India (CCI) — initiated the probe, it outlined four antitrust behaviors allegedly practiced by both Amazon and Flipkart. Included were prioritizing some sellers, exclusive smartphone launches, and selective discounts.
The CCI probe is another hurdle Amazon and Flipkart have faced over foreign investment mandates and allegations of sidestepping the laws in India.
In February of this year, a Reuters investigation based on internal Amazon documents showed that the eCommerce behemoth had supported some sellers on its platform in India with discounts and deals.
First announced in January 2020, CCI’s investigation was prompted by a trader group’s complaint alleging the firms promoted preferred sellers. The Confederation of All India Traders Secretary General Praveen Khandelwal said the probe was long overdue.
In March, Amazon asked India to pause any changes to its eCommerce foreign investment rules until investigations are concluded. Indian retailers argued that Amazon and Walmart’s Flipkart hurt small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) and ignored India’s mandates. Both companies have said that they are helping India’s small businesses.