WhatsApp and Facebook have challenged the CCI’s June 4 and 8, 2021, notices respectively, asking them to furnish certain information for the purpose of inquiry conducted by it.
A bench of Chief Justice D N Patel and Justice Jyoti Singh noted that the Data Protection bill is yet to be finalised and, therefore, adjourned the proceedings to March 30.
“Till then the time to file replies to the June 4 and June 8, last year, notices issued by CCI to the appellants (Facebook and WhatsApp) is extended,” the bench said.
The court had earlier granted time to the social media platforms to file replies to notices and thereafter, the time was further extended.
Senior advocate Harish Salve, representing WhatsApp, submitted that the Data Protection bill was tabled in the Parliament and the court had earlier granted time to file replies to the notices till October 11, 2021, but it could not be extended thereafter as the matter was not taken up.
Additional Solicitor General Aman Lekhi, appearing for CCI, contended that Data Protection bill is “irrelevant” to this controversy and that the case does not deal with ‘privacy’ but with the provisions of Competition Act relating to abuse of dominant position and inquiry into certain agreements and dominant position of an enterprise.
Meanwhile, the counsel for Facebook India submitted that he has filed an application seeking to be impleaded as a party to the case. However, the court asked him to file a fresh petition.
The division bench of the high court had on May 6, 2021, issued notices on the appeals and asked the Centre to respond to it.
The court had said it saw no merit in the petitions of Facebook and WhatsApp to interdict the investigation directed by the CCI.
The CCI had contended before the single judge that it was not examining the alleged violation of individuals’ privacy which was being looked into by the Supreme Court.