There is Competition everywhere in today’s world. In every field, people are aspiring to come on top. Sometimes, people tend to employ unfair or wrong means to achieve such ends, especially in business. Competition Law (also known as Anti Trust Law) has been established to curtail this. The Competition Commission of India (CCI) was established as a body to check such unethical practices among the traders. This would ensure a fair market to all the sellers and a chance of getting the broadest range of goods and services at the most competitive prices to all the buyers.
The Competition Act
The Competition Commission of India was established on October 14, 2003, by the Competition Act 2002. The Act replaced the initial Monopolistic and Restrictive Trade Practices Act, 1969. The Act follows the principle of modern Anti-Trust laws. It prohibits Anti Competitive Agreements,[i] Abuse of Dominant Position by enterprises.[ii] Further, it regulates combinations (acquisition, acquiring of control and M&A), which cause or are likely to cause an appreciable adverse effect on competition[iii] within India.[iv] The Act allows the CCI to investigate the merits of different cases with the help of the Director-General.
Role of the Competition Commission of India
CCI plays a very important role in preserving the economic fabric of the country. The idea is that with the increase in competition, producers’ incentive maximizes. Consequently resulting in wider choices and reduced costs for the consumers. Though, CCI is there to sustain the interests of both buyers and the sellers. There are many roles of the CCI, though we can summarize them as follows;
- To prevent unfair practices which have an adverse effect on Competition.
- To promote and increase Competition in the market.
- For protecting the consumers’ interests.
- Also, to ensure if other participants practice the freedom of trade or not.
The CCI also gives an opinion on competition issues which concern a reference received from the statutory authority established under any law. It is done to undertake competition advocacy, create public awareness and impart training on the competition issues in India.[v] If any parties are found guilty, the CCI can also impose a penalty on them. The CCI can pursue a case after receiving information regarding the same or on their own motion.
Structure of the Competition Commission of India
Earlier, the Competition Commission of India used to have 6 members and a chairperson. But in 2018, the Cabinet decided to reduce the number of members by half. Now, the CCI will have 3 members and 1 chairperson. The Government expects a faster turnout of cases due to this move.
Some Important Cases of Competition Commission of India
The CCI decides a large number of cases which range from the cases of Anti Competitive Agreements to the Abuse of Dominant Position. In 2014, Google defied the Director General’s directions. The Commission imposed a fine of $ 10 million on the company.[vi] Also in 2013, CCI imposed a fine of ₹52.2 crores on the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI). CCI found BCCI abusing its dominant position. The CCI found IPL team ownership agreements to be unfair and in BCCI’s favor. The franchises had no say in them. The CCI ordered BCCI to “cease and desist” from any such practice in the future. And also asked it not to use its regulatory powers in deciding matters relating to its commercial activities.[vii]
In another case, Reliance Jio filed a case against other telecom companies for cartelization. The CCI ordered a probe in the working of the Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI). Cartelization is defined as an agreement between two or more merchants to create or control a monopoly, to lessen or prevent competition.[viii]
The Competition Commission of India is an intrinsic element in the Indian economy. The issues of Anti Trust might look seemingly harmless to a layman but are of much importance. Common people generally don’t understand the importance of the presence of the Competition in the market and how it benefits them. The Commission’s objective is to reduce the adverse effects on competition. Anti Trust law in India is developing day by day. The Government wants even the common public to understand its importance. Even CCI’s website is very informative and interactive. India is one of the countries having an advanced system of Anti Trust Laws.
[i] Competition Act 2002, s 3.
[ii] ibid, s 4.
[iii] Supra Note I, s 5.
[vi] M/s Albino Infotel Ltd v M/s Google India Pvt Ltd 2014 SCC OnLine CCI 145.
[vii] BCCI v CCI 2015 SCC OnLine Comp AT 238.
[viii] Duhaime’s Law Dictionary.