Recent Development in Competition Law in India, 2021

A year in Covid’s clutches, fortunately, the numerous disruptions relating competition that we continue to experience on a daily basis did not significantly decelerate the Commission and the Court. Both have been extremely busy this year.

Introduction

The Indian parliament passed the competition act of 2002, establishing a commission to regulate the commercial activities of firms and people in the country, ensuring true competition and the national economic progress. This statute covers the whole Republic of India.

On October 1st, 2018, the Competition Law Evaluate Committee (CLRC) was established to research the Competition Act, 2002 (Act) and its ancillary rules. The CLRC released its report in July 2019, bearing in view the necessity for a comprehensive approach owing to the rise of new and advanced business strategies.

The tentative Competition (Amendment) Bill, 2020 was submitted for public comment in February 2020 after adopting several improvements proposed by the CLRC. The bill features several measures that have the potential to substantially overhaul India’s antitrust framework.

Recent Competition Development: January – May, 2021

Development in Competition Law During May, 2021

The CCI proposed a detailed draft for public comments on the confidentiality regime along with regulation 35 of the CCI (General) Regulation, 2009 on May 12, 2021

The request for the extension of the deadline was made by the various stakeholders due to increasing cases of covid-19, the CCI has extended the date by one month i.e., June 12, 2021.

Under competition law, in order to safeguard the integrity pertaining to any business, there is a statutory restriction on disclosure of the specific information during the proceedings.

Changes proposed in the confidentiality regime are –

  • The current practice of filing of pleadings includes both confidential and non-confidential aspects. Now the same practice will continue but with the “self-certified basis” certifying absolutely that such versions created in compliance with the new regulation’s standards for requesting confidentiality. Such undertakings shall give by company secretaries authorised by the parties.
  • The existing system, which allows an informant to request anonymity over its identification by simply submitting a written request, is also plan to abolish.
  • The regulator has also proposes the formation of a “confidentiality ring” consisting of authorise representatives (“internal and external”) of the parties who’d allows to access the whole case records in an unclassified form, according to adequate confidentiality obligations.

To avoid potential competitive difficulties, is evaluating model concession agreements in the infrastructure and public service delivery categories.

The intention behind is to minimise competition issues in the drafting, awarding, and implementation of concession agreements, so preventing future antitrust intervention said, by “CCI Chairperson Ashok Kumar Gupta” at the virtual event on the 12th Annual day of the CCI.

He said, “the regulator has been undertaking marketing research and advocating for anti-competitive activities in the industry as part of its efforts to counter them.”

“In times of crisis, the practical implementation of antitrust law is especially important to minimise market distortions and promote a quick and lasting economic growth,” he noted.

Development in Competition Law During April, 2021

On 24th March, 2021, in a “suo moto” case, the Commission issued a 21-page order authorising an investigation into WhatsApp’s newly revised user agreement, accusing abuse of dominant position by attempting to impose “unfair T&C” on users in violation of the competition Act.

Regulatory activism is a need on an hour, but selective regulatory movement destroys public trust in the regulator.

The Competition Commission of India (CCI) has allowed “Rising Sun Holdings Private Limited, Sanjay Chamria, and Mayank Poddar’s” ownership of a stake in Mumbai-based non-banking financial business “Magma Fincorp Limited”.

Moreover, “Rising Sun” is component of the “Rising Sun group” of enterprises, which is led by “Serum Institute of India” CEO Adar Poonawalla.

Development in Competition Law During March, 2021

The CCI said in a tweet, the “Tata Power Company Limited” has been grant permission to purchase 51 percent of the equity share capital of “North Eastern Electricity Supply Company of Odisha Limited”.

Further, in response to the competitive bidding process by the “Odisha Electricity Regulatory Commission’s” according to a composite notification issued by the regulator.

A filing with the CCI represented, the “Tata Digital Ltd.” owned by “Tata Sons Pvt. Ltd.” Has proposed to buy 64% of the entity of the “big Basket” owned by “Alibaba Group Holding Company”

If the deal locks, the company will be place in direct rivalry with Amazon, Flipkart and JioMart.

Development in Competition Law During February, 2021

The Federation of Publishers and Booksellers Association in India (FPBAI) and its current and previous presidents were fined Rs 4 lakh by the Competition Commission of India (CCI) for anti-competitive actions.

The CCI also order the FPBAI to stop engaging in actions that determine in violation “section 3 of the Competition Act”.

A complaint has been filed against three firms – “Chandra Prabhu Offset Printing Works Pvt Ltd, Saraswati Offset Printers Pvt Ltd and United India Tradex Pvt Ltd” alleging of conspiring to rig pricing in tender bids.

The evidence acquired by the inquiry revealed that the opposing parties had commercial interactions, financial transfers, and personal connections. The inquiry, however, was unable to uncover any solid evidence that might be used to prove a violation of “Section 3(3) of the (Competition) Act”.

Development in Competition Law During January, 2021

A complaint was filed under “section 4 of the competition At, 2002” by Mr. Thupili Raveendra Babu, a law aspirant, alleging that the BCI was “abusing the dominance power” by establishing a maximum age restriction for law degree according to which, candidates in the General category who have reached the age of 30 are forbidden from pursuing legal study

The CCI responded, “BCI was performing its regulatory responsibilities, hence it didn’t qualify as an enterprise under section 2(h) and its duties didn’t need investigation under section 4.”

CCI has dismissed a case alleging cartelization by the Romsons Scientific & Surgical Industrial Pvt Ltd and BSN Medical Pvt Ltd”.

A complaint lodged in relation to the tender invited by AIIMS in 2006 by the firms alleging cartelization. After considering the parties’ representations, the DG found that various companies offering identical prices in various geographical regions with varied production costs and operating costs will be too much of a happenstance, which is hard to persuade.

As a result, the DG came to the conclusion that the companies conspired and acted in violation of the Competition Act.

The CCI, on the other hand, stated that there is no proof of any contacts or contacts between both the opposing parties (OPs) or other setup suggesting an implicit cooperation in the proposal fixing prices.

References

  1. Bare Act, The Competition Act, 2002
  2. The Competition (Amendment) Bill, 2020
  3. Ela BaliNripi Jolly; Vaibhav Choukse, Developments in Competition Law during February 2021, JSA Law (May 26, 2021, 9:00 AM), https://www.jsalaw.com
  4. Eshwar Girish, Competition (Amendment) Bill, 2020, Times of India (May 26, 2021, 10:30 AM), https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com
  5. Rahul Singh; Mayuka Sah;  Vasudhaa Ahuja;  Arahant Jain and Alisha Mehra, Competition/Antitrust Newsletter – January 2021, Mondaq (May 26, 2021, 11:00 AM), https://www.mondaq.com

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