Delhi HC dismisses appeals of Whatsapp, Facebook against CCI probe

New Delhi, August 25 (KMS): The Delhi High Court has dismissed the appeals of WhatsApp and Facebook against an order rejecting their challenge to a probe ordered by the Competition Commission of India (CCI) into the instant messaging platform’s updated privacy policy of 2021.

A bench of Chief Justice Satish Chandra Sharma and Justice Subramonium Prasad on Thursday said the single judge’s order was well-reasoned and the appeals are devoid of merits.

In April last year, a single judge of the high court had refused to interdict the investigation directed by the CCI on the petitions moved by WhatsApp LLC and Facebook Inc. – now Meta platforms. Earlier, in January last year, the CCI on its own had decided to look into WhatsApp’s updated privacy policy based on news reports regarding the same.

WhatsApp in its arguments before the division bench of the court stated that the CCI cannot probe a policy that has now been kept in abeyance to await the fate of the Data Protection Bill as well as the decision of the Supreme Court and the high court on issues concerning the legality of the policy.

Facebook had argued that the CCI cannot investigate the case in a “creeping fashion” as there was no prima facie material in it against the social media platform.

Before the single judge, WhatsApp and Facebook had challenged the CCI’s March 2021 order directing a probe against them.

Dismissing the petitions, the single judge had maintained that although it would have been “prudent” for the CCI to await the outcome of the petitions in the Supreme Court and the Delhi High Court against WhatsApp’s new privacy policy, not doing so would not make the regulator’s order “perverse” or “wanting of jurisdiction”.

On January 3, while dealing with the appeals against the single-judge order, a bench headed by then Chief Justice DN Patel had extended the time for filing replies by Facebook and WhatsApp to two CCI notices of June 2021, asking them to furnish certain information for the purpose of the inquiry conducted by it.

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