Indian Start-Ups ask CCI to order Google to Restore Apps removed Citing Policy Violations

April 29, 2024
start-up companies

By Rupin Chopra and Apalka Bareja

With over 6 Billion app downloads, India, surpassed the United States position of most number of downloaded apps from the Google Play Store.[1] Being in predominance in the market, Google play store is the largest app store by number of apps and downloads in India.

Recently, Alphabet Inc’s Google removed few applications from its play store for non-compliance with the payment rules and policy violations some of which have been reinstated recently. Disappointed by the deletion of applications, a group of start-up companies have approached the CCI for asking Google to reinstate the applications back on its app-store. All the applications that backed-off from paying 26 % service fee charge for in- app purchases were removed by Google without any prior information.

Contradiction with Competition Act, 2002:

Google by asking app developers to pay 11- 26% of service fee is allegedly restricting their scope of business. This policy by Google Inc. seems to be contradictory to the rules and regulation of Competition Laws in India. Specifically, Section 4 of the Competition Act, 2002 which deals with abuse of dominance in the market by a pre-dominant entity.

How does it create an adverse effect on the Competition within India?

The service-fee of 11%-26% imposed for using third party billing method to make in-app purchases appears to be constituting contravention with Section 4 of the Competition Act. Despite not using any service of Google, app developers are being strained to pay commissions to Google.

It is in breach of the order given by the CCI in October, 2022 that google shall not impose any condition on the app developers which in anyway restrict their business or is discriminatory, unfair or unreasonable to the services provided to the developers. Further, Google is not transparent about the charge imposed of 11/26 % even when the user is availing a third-party processing service. We can say that Google is here again guilty of abuse of its ‘Dominant Position’ which is contrary to the objective of the Competition Laws in India.

CCI ordered Google to make alterations in its Policy in October, 2022:

There have been instances where Google in the past was found at fault of doing anti-competitive practices.  In October 2022, the Competition Commission of India in Google- CCI case[2] asked google to make the required alterations in its policies within a prescribed timeline. CCI asked Google to not restrict app developers from using 3rd party billing method or payment processing fee in India. As per CCI, Google used its ‘dominant position’ to restrict other app developers to use its in-app payment system.

CCI in 2022 held Google Inc. guilty of abusing its ‘Dominant Position’ in numerous manner such as mandatory pre- installation of the entire Google Mobile Suite (‘GMS’) with no option to un-install the same[3] and was fined for Rs. 1337.76 Crore for violating Section 4 of the Competition Act, 2002.[4]  Not satisfied with the order of the CCI, Google moved to National Company Law Appellate Tribunal on grounds that it affects the experience on Androids and also bothers consumer safety. On March 29, 2023 the NCLAT refused to impose an interim stay on the order of the Commission and instead asked Google to deposit 10 % of the penalty amount.[5] As of now, the dispute is pending for adjudication with the Hon’ble Supreme Court of India.[6]


Google eliminating application without any prior information to the app developers can affect the start-ups and tiny app developers in India. The lack of oversight on the policies governing the app store in India leaves too much power in the hands of the Google.  It can be an unfavorable scenario for the growth of Start-Ups in India. The Startup surge in India is expected to sneak into a new era of innovation and economic growth.[7]

Start-Ups friendly policies will promote growth of the Innovative Market in India. India being one of the massive diverse populated countries with many talented individuals in search of work, it is essential to develop startup policies that are in alignment with their expectations to get establish in the market. By cultivating a Startup friendly regulatory environment it will be easier to sustain the momentum gained by the country from the boom of new app developers.

Aishwarya Rajput, Assessment Intern at S.S. Rana & Co. has assisted in the research of this Article.

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