Flipkart, owned by Wal-Mart, has asked the Supreme Court of India to restrict the country’s antitrust agency after the agency raised sensitive issues in what the company called an “intrusive” investigation into its e-commerce business.
In an undisclosed court document of more than 700 pages, the request explained the extent of the e-commerce giant’s concerns about the investigation, which triggered a public quarrel between the US company and the Indian government.
In investigations including Amazon, the Competition Commission of India (CCI) sought a list of Flipkart’s best-selling products, online discounts and agreements with smartphone manufacturers in 32 questions raised on July 15.
Flipkart told the Supreme Court that the details sought exacerbated its fear of being “intrusive” in the investigation and asked it to shelve requests for information and the overall investigation.
“The information sought… is sensitive in nature,” Flipkart said in court documents, adding that such investigations could have serious consequences for its reputation and goodwill.
“It is clear that the Director General is determined to take urgent action,” it added, referring to the head of the investigation of the supervisory agency.
An unnamed source said that the antitrust agency also issued a request for information to Amazon during the investigation.
Flipkart, Amazon and CCI did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
Although the Indian Minister of Trade and a court in southern India stated that the two companies should not shy away from the investigation, Amazon and Flipkart stated that CCI lacked evidence and should not initiate an investigation last year.
The state court rejected the two companies’ requests in June and July, saying that the investigation must continue before making a request to the Supreme Court.
According to a Reuters report in June, the antitrust agency has set the deadline for Flipkart’s response to July 30 and plans to expedite investigations into Amazon and Flipkart after obtaining court approval.
According to court documents, CCI’s question also sought policy details regarding the policy of displaying products on the Flipkart website and internal communication with sellers regarding sales activities.
The regulator also requested a list of Flipkart’s top 100 sellers and best-selling products between 2015 and 2020.
“Investigation…involving intrusive and free-range investigations,” Flipkart said in the document, adding that this would have a “huge” impact.
Indian retailers said that Flipkart prefers selected sellers on its platform to the disadvantage of small players.
In February of this year, a survey conducted by Reuters based on Amazon documents showed that it had been offering preferential treatment to a small group of sellers for many years and used them to bypass Indian laws.
These companies denied any wrongdoing.
© Thomson Reuters 2021