In a major respite to the global technology major including Whatsapp and Facebook, the Delhi High Court has granted more time to the two companies to file their response over notices issued to them by the Competition Commission of India (CCI).
The Bench of Justice DN Patel and Justice Jyoti Singh on Monday noted that the Data Protection Bill yet to be finalised by the respondents adjourned the matter for March 30, 2022.
After taking notes of the submission of the appellant the court granted time to Whatsapp and Facebook to file their response over notice issued to them by CCI sought several details from them.
The court adjourned the matter for March 30, 2022. It had granted time to Petitioners after Senior Advocate Harish Salve, appearing for Whatsapp LLC, informed the court that the CCI is insisting on a response to notices despite the matter being pending before the courts and under judicial consideration.
Meanwhile, Additional Solicitor General Aman Lekhi appearing for CCI stated that the stay which was granted on July 30, 2021, and further extended to August 27, 2021, was later vacated on October 11, 2021.
Whatsapp was sent a notice on June 4 while Facebook was sent a notice on June 8 by CCI seeking information and response to certain queries.
Earlier, the Delhi HC urged the DG, CCI to bear in mind that investigation against the appellant (WhatsApp and Facebook) is under judicial consideration before a Division Bench of this court.
The Bench had also stated that in its view, there was no doubt that the issuance of impugned notice by the DG is a step in furtherance of the investigation commenced in the Suo-Motu case, in which investigation is a subject matter of the challenge in the present LPA.
“…we do not consider it appropriate to stay the operation of impugned notice dated 04.06.2021, at this stage…” said Delhi High Court Bench had said.
Facebook and Whastapp had approached the Division bench through an appeal-challenged single-judge bench order dismissing their pleas against the CCI decision.
Senior Advocate Harish Salve and Former Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi appeared for the petitioners and had told the court that CCI proceedings must be kept in abeyance as the matter is pending before Supreme Court and High Court.
Additional Solicitor General (ASG) Aman Lekhi, who represented CCI in the matter, had earlier told the court that the matter is not of privacy but access to data and the competition is going to deal with metadata.