The Competition Commission ordered probe against Google AdWords after it found "prima facie evidence" that the search giant abused its dominant market position by being discriminatory in allotting keywords
New Delhi: Competition watchdog the Competition Commission of India (CCI) has asked its investigation arm to probe the alleged discriminatory practices by global search engine Google relating to its AdWords, reports PTI.
The investigation, according to sources, was ordered after the CCI found "prima facie evidence" that Google has abused its dominant market position by being discriminatory in allotting keywords to matrimonial site Bharatmatrimony.com.
"We have asked the Director General (Investigations) to complete the probe and give a report on it within 60 days. Prima facie, we found evidence that suggests that Google did abuse its dominant market position," a senior official told PTI.
When contacted a Google spokesperson said, "We have not received any communication and therefore we are unable to comment on it".
In February, Chennai-based Consim Info Pct Ltd, the owner of BharatMatrimony.com filed a complaint alleging that Google has abused the matrimonial sites' dominance by engaging in discriminatory and retaliatory practices relating to AdWords.
The AdWords programme, in which Google sells keywords to advertisers and displays them in the form of short ads online, is a big money spinner for the company.
"BharatMatrimony... requests that the Commission investigate Google's practices and impose remedial measures to protect competition," match-making portal had said in a statement.
It added the "increasing number of competition law complaints against Google globally suggests a pattern of anti- competitive conduct that needs to be checked in order to protect Indian businesses and consumers".
In 2011, the advertising segment comprised 96% of Google's $38 billion revenue.
BharatMatrimony is owned by Consim Info which has over 400 community portals and 15 regional portals.
Aamir Khan and ‘Satyamev Jayate’, his TV show has become an instant hit in the country. No doubt, we need to name and shame those involved in female infanticide and foeticide, provided they are also given a chance to express their views on the same show
Aamir Khan's opening episode of "Satyamev Jayate" has, as expected, run up a storm on the internet as well as other forms of electronic and social media. The subject of female infanticide and foeticide is one that stares many people in the face, not just in India, but also in many other countries. But most certainly the issue is very serious in and around India.
It is not as though this was a secret, though, since even an idiot can spot these clinics all over the country. Nor is it a secret that on the other side of the spectrum, there is now also an industry evolving on helping people have babies, which is somehow related to this - the technologies and qualifications required are pretty much the same. So it is not as though those involved in this business of foeticide will starve.
Therefore, in a way, it can be safely said that unless we live in a cave, there is a gender determination clinic and a pregnancy assisting clinic within 2 kms of wherever we live, which shares the same sanitation worker, press-wallah, corner tea-shop, cable TV guy, grocery outlet, car-wash dude, paper-delivery, milkman, chemist, BSNL/MTNL linesman, night beat-cop, bus-stop, taxi-stand and more. They also share the same blood-banks, technologists, maintenance staff, linen services and security guards.
In other words, everybody knows, since sometimes they are also in the same building, hospital, clinic, nursing home. And we all know. Very often, we are part of the whole set-up too.
So, how different are we from the people who lived in and around the Nazi death-camps, with our studied silences? In many cases, these are people who are part of our social circle, so we are somehow also involved in this circle of deceit.
The first thing needed, therefore, is to name and shame those involved. Certainly, they should be given an opportunity to explain themselves, which is why some of us are insisting that the "other parties" also be given an opportunity to come on the same TV show, and speak about their aspect of this issue.
But not from behind the cloak of anonymity. As well as with representatives of the Indian Medical Association attending. And while the list of doctors and clinics in Rajasthan is long, in the Dr Mitu Khurana case, here's the name and address of Dr Kamal Khurana, who also happens to be a consultant orthopaedic surgeon with Fortis Hospital in Shalimar Bagh, Delhi.
Dr Kamal Khurana, C-4/6, Sector 15, Rohini, phone 011-27852727, clinic B-8/19, Sector 15, Rohini, New Delhi. This is an upscale part of Delhi, not some village in the rural backwaters, or similar. Why not go and meet him at his clinic, ask him, or call him up and get his point of view?
The second thing is that we need the Indian Medical Association (IMA) to come out clearly on this subject, and take some definitive steps, as has been suggested by friends who are doctors but who choose to remain silent because it seems the fear of the IMA is all-pervasive. Only non-doctors can counter it. (As the son of somebody who chucked up the medical profession, partly also in disgust, I can empathise.)
Just these two steps, to start with, would be enough. Aamir Khan, it would appear, has taken the third himself - in an interview with CNBC-TV18 yesterday, he announced that he had withdrawn from all future commercial endorsements and had ensured that past endorsements were terminated with effect from the 31 of March 2012.
And why is that so important in that case?
Because, simply, when you look at the core reasons behind gender determination, you come out with some very surprising results. Which shall be another article. On MoneyLife. As the SMJ bandwagon picks up steam, this aspect will be so very important - what drives people to do these things?
As the saying goes - when you want to catch a criminal, follow the money.
(Veeresh Malik had a long career in the Merchant Navy, which he left in 1983. He has qualifications in ship-broking and chartering, loves to travel, and has been in print and electronic media for over two decades. After starting and selling a couple of companies, is now back to his first love-writing.)
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Satyamev Jayate: Will it charge up the nation?
The judiciary should refrain from granting stays on orders when anyone approaches it after defying a legally valid order. Only respect for courts will not make a better law-abiding nation, respect for the law will
As an information commissioner I have noticed that many public authorities do not obey the statutory orders given by the commission. When faced with action for non-compliance, they obtain a stay from the high court by filing a writ petition. This is the case with statutory orders given by many other authorities, as well. I have been thinking about this common practice in our high courts and feel it does serious damage to the rule of law and encourages disrespect for the law. If anyone—citizen, institution or government department—does not obey a statutory order given with the sanction of law, this should invite the consequences of defying the law. Granting a stay of the original order by a high court provides a legal sanctity to an illegal and undesirable action. When granting these stays on legally valid orders, in most cases no reasons are given, hence there is no evidence of any justification for this protection to the defiance of the law. I strongly feel that any standard action of an instrumentality of the state which may promote lawlessness must be opposed and an attempt made to seek correction of such action. Many times the lawyers hired in obtaining such stays charge between Rs1 lakh and Rs5 lakh for an appearance. This money is paid from public funds to deny information to the public and defy legally valid orders in the name of the public. This cannot be considered to be in public interest or legally permissible. Though my proposition appears to be logical and self-evident, I am quoting some Supreme Court pronouncements in support of this.
The Supreme Court in Prithawi Nath Ram Vs State of Jharkhand & Others Appeal (Civil) No. 5024 of 2000 in its judgment dated 24 August 2004 has stated: “If any party concerned is aggrieved by the order which in its opinion is wrong or against rules or its implementation is neither practicable nor feasible, it should always either approach to the court that passed the order or invoke jurisdiction of the appellate court. Rightness or wrongness of the order cannot be urged in contempt proceedings. Right or wrong the order has to be obeyed. Flouting an order of the court would render the party liable for contempt. While dealing with an application for contempt the court cannot traverse beyond the order, non-compliance of which is alleged. In other words, it cannot say what should not have been done or what should have been done. It cannot traverse beyond the order. It cannot test correctness or otherwise of the order or give additional direction or delete any direction. That would be exercising review jurisdiction while dealing with an application for initiation of contempt proceedings. The same would be impermissible and indefensible.” I think it is logical to deduce from this, that if flouting of an order invites contempt proceedings, a stay on an order granted after the order is defied has no legal basis. Such a stay is not in the interest of nurturing respect for the law.
Further, in Prakash Narain Sharma Vs Burma Shell Cooperative Housing AIR 2002 SC 3062, the Supreme Court of India has observed that a judicial order, not invalid on its face, must be given effect entailing all consequences, till it is declared void in a duly constituted judicial proceeding. Justice SN Variava in Ghaziabad Development Authority Vs Balbir Singh (2004)- (002)- CPJ- 0012- SC stated that unless there is a stay obtained from a higher forum, the mere fact of filing an appeal or revision will not entitle a person who is required to pay the penalty to not comply with the order of the lower forum. Even though the person may have filed an appeal or revision, if no stay is obtained or if a stay is refused, the order must be complied with. In such cases, the higher forum should, before entertaining such appeal or revision, ensure that the order of the lower forum is first complied with.
It appears to me to be self-evident that no organ of the state should allow or encourage defiance of the orders of any statutory authority. There are also the judicial pronouncements in support of my contention, which I have quoted above. I hope there can be a public discussion on this matter and the judiciary would refrain from granting stays on orders when anyone approaches it after defying a legally valid order. If there are extenuating reasons for granting such a stay, they must be provided in the order. Our present practice in the courts favours those who can spend money on hiring lawyers. In most of these cases it is the public authority which spends the money. Thus public money is spent to either deny information to the public or protect the guilty officer from paying penalty! This is done by refusing to obey legally valid orders. This needs to be stopped. Only respect for courts will not make a better law-abiding nation, respect for the law will.
The views expressed here are the author’s own personal views
(Shailesh Gandhi is a Central Information Commissioner; he is the first RTI activist to be on the central commission. An IIT Mumbai alumni, the author has closed down his business to devote his time to social causes, especially the RTI Act.)