900 319 0030

Approaching the CCI

iasparliament Logo
September 04, 2020

Why in news?

The Competition Commission of India’s (CCI’s) order has dispelled the ambiguity over who can approach it.

What is the ambiguity?

  • There was an ambiguity about who can approach the CCI against anti-competitive practice by an enterprise that breaches the Competition Act.
  • This issue has often been raised in debates.
  • The accused parties, in their defence, use this as a preliminary ground for dismissal of the case at the very threshold.
  • The Commission has not accepted this defence.

What did the NCLAT rule?

  • The National Company Law Appellate Tribunal (NCLAT) made a ruling in the appeal case of Samir Agarwal v. CCI.
  • It ruled that, to have the locus standi to file information before the CCI, a person must be one who has suffered an invasion of their legal rights as a consumer.

What is the concern that the NCLAT express?

  • It said that any other interpretation would make room for people to rake issues of anti-competitive agreements or abuse of dominant position targeting some enterprises with oblique motives.
  • The restrictive ruling of the NCLAT has dismayed many students and experts of competition law.
  • It amounted to severe circumscribing the opportunities to unravel alleged violations of the Competition Act.

What is the objective of the Competition Act?

  • The objective of the Competition Act is to provide for the establishment of a Commission to prevent practices having bad effect on competition.
  • It aims to promote and sustain competition in markets.
  • It also wants to protect the interests of consumers.
  • It aims to ensure freedom of trade carried on by other participants in markets, in India, and for matters connected therewith.
  • In pursuit of this objective, the Act duly empowers the Commission to inquire into and penalise such practices.

Why competition should be maintained?

  • Competition is sought to be maintained for its considerable benefits for consumers and for the economy on the whole.
  • Countries across the world have discarded state-directed policies and monopolies in favour of market-contest.
  • Competition offers choice and freedom to consumers, lowers the prices, incentivises innovation and enhances efficiencies of various kinds.
  • Most countries have also enacted competition/anti-trust laws to punish practices that suppress competition.

What did the CCI clarify in its recent order?

  • The CCI recently, in an order in Harshita Chawla vs Whatsapp and Facebook, clarified the legal position in respect of locus standi.
  • The CCI’s order asserted the point that violations of the Act are offences in rem and not in personam.
  • [In rem - Applies to "all the world"
  • In personam - Meaning "against a particular person"]
  • The CCI said that the proceedings before it are inquisitorial in nature.
  • It said that the locus of the informant is not as relevant in deciding whether the case filed before the CCI should be entertained or not.
  • If the matter reported to the CCI involves anti-competitive issues falling within the ambit of the Act, the CCI can proceed with the matter.
  • The CCI is entitled to proceed suo motu or on any reference being made by the Governments or any Statutory Authority.

What are CCI’s amendments?

  • The Commission’s role as an overarching market regulator also finds its foundational footing in the amendments.
  • It amended the provisions of Section 19 (1) (a) by substituting the words “receipt of a complaint” with “receipt of any information”.
  • This amendment reflected the legislative intention of emphasising the inquisitorial nature of the proceedings of the Commission.
  • Further, there are several other amendments, as also the other provisions of the Act, which reverberate this inquisitorial scheme.
  • This approach is evident from the powers available to the CCI.
  • It can direct investigation and hold inquiries against entities or persons who are suspected to be involved in an anti-competitive conduct.

What is the conclusion?

  • The CCI is more concerned with the facts and allegations highlighted in the information rather than the locus of the person who provided it.
  • Given the order of the CCI, no informant requires a locus to approach the CCI, this issue is conclusively settled.
  • Now, the parties will not be able to stymie an inquiry on this ground.


Source: Financial Express

Login or Register to Post Comments
There are no reviews yet. Be the first one to review.



Free UPSC Interview Guidance Programme