WhatsApp and Facebook have filed a complaint with the CCI, requesting that they provide certain information for the purposes of the CCI’s investigation.
WhatsApp and Facebook have both contested the CCI’s notices dated June 4 and 8, 2021, which asked them to provide certain information for the sake of an investigation.
The proceedings were adjourned to March 30 by a bench of Chief Justice D N Patel and Justice Jyoti Singh, who noted that the Data Protection bill had not yet been finalized.
“Until then, the deadline to file replies to the CCI notices issued to the appellants (Facebook and WhatsApp) on June 4 and 8, last year is extended,” the bench observed.
Senior advocate Harish Salve, representing WhatsApp, argued that the Data Protection bill had been introduced in Parliament and that the court had previously granted time to file responses to the notices until October 11, 2021, but that time could not be extended further because the matter had not been heard.
CCI’s Additional Solicitor General Aman Lekhi argued that the Data Protection Bill is “irrelevant” to this case and that the case is about the provisions of the Competition Act relating to abuse of dominant position and inquiry into certain agreements and dominant position of an enterprise, not about privacy. Meanwhile, Facebook India’s counsel stated that he has filed an application to be impleaded as a party to the case. The court, however, ordered him to file a new petition.
On May 6, 2021, the high court’s division bench issued notices on the appeals and requested the Centre to respond.
The court had ruled that the pleas filed by Facebook and WhatsApp to halt the CCI’s inquiry were without substance. The CCI had argued before the single judge that it was not investigating the alleged infringement of people’s privacy that the Supreme Court was looking into.