The Delhi High Court on Monday granted WhatsApp and Facebook more time to file their responses over notices issued to them by the Competition Commission of India (CCI). Both the companies had challenged the CCI notices seeking reply to its queries pertaining to the inquiry conducted by the anti-trust commission.
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.
“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, reported news agency PTI.
Senior advocate Harish Salve, who was representing WhatsApp, told the court 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.
On the other hand, Additional Solicitor General Aman Lekhi appeared 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.