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Indian Competition Law

The Monopolies & Restrictive Trade Practices Act came into effect in 1970. But with the economic liberalization boom redefining the roles of the both the Indian state and private sectors, there was a need to reframe the nation's competition policy and the legal body overseeing it. To replace the not-so comprehensive 1969 MRTP Act, the Competition Act was passed in 2002 and put into practice from 2003.

Objectives of the Competition Act 2002:

  • Stop anti-competitive practices
  • Encourage competition and sustain it
  • Protect consumer interests
  • Encourage freedom of trade amongst market participants

What the Act's Substantive Provisions were:

  • Anti-competitive agreements
  • Control over mergers
  • Abuse of dominance

The Competition Act has jurisdiction above all other enactments even outside India that may affect any market within our country.

Competition Commission of India:

The Competition Commission of India or CCI was formed and entrusted with the task of putting the Act's provisions into practice. This body was made a corporate body with perpetual succession powers. It was to hold a common seal and powers for acquiring, holding and disposing of both movable and immovable property. The body could also independently enter into contracts. While executing its functions, the CCI was to be guided by natural justice principles. The CCI was also empowered to manage its own procedures.

  • Composition of CCI
  • The CCI comprises of 2-10 members who are Central Government-appointed and a Chairperson at the apex. These members are selected from a Selection Committee-recommended list. These CCI members hold office for a five-year term and may be reappointed. A Secretary and additional officers for administrative work are also appointed by the CCI. Every meeting held in the CCI must be attended by at least 3 of its members.

Director General of the CCI

The investigative section of the CCI is under the supervision of a Director General.

Functions of the DG:

  • Provides warrants for searching and seizing offices or homes.
  • Summons and investigates individuals who have taken oath.
  • Orders for documents and evidence to be produced.

Competition Appellate Tribunal:

The Central Government has formed a CAT or Competition Appellate Tribunal for:

  • Hearing and dealing with appeals against CCI-approved orders.
  • Adjudicating compensation claims which come out from CCI results.

Composition of CAT

It has a Chairperson and only two members. The Chairperson must have held the post of a previous Chief Justice with a state High Court or a Supreme Court judge. According to the Competition Act, civil courts are not empowered to deal with issues that specifically come under the jurisdiction of either the CCI or CAT.

Items of national importance exempted under this Act:

  • Atomic energy matters
  • Security issues
  • Currency issues
  • Defense questions
  • Space related matters
  • Public interest cases
  • Treaty obligations

Besides the aforementioned matters, the CCI is authorized to investigate upon, research, regulate and deliver judgment on any other matter concerning any individual or organization. In keeping with this principle, all Societies, PSUs, Municipal Corporations, Scientific Societies etc fall under this Act's purview.

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