In April 2019 the Delhi High Court disposed of 12 writ petitions filed by 10 car manufacturers and India's largest music label and movie studio. The writ petitions had challenged the main provisions of the Competition Act 2002 and were filed against a common order passed by the Competition Commission of India, which had found that 14 car manufacturers had been dominant in their respective markets and abused this dominance by preventing the establishment of an aftermarket in India.
On 15 January 2019 the Supreme Court allowed the Competition Commission of India's (CCI's) appeal against a Delhi High Court order which had prohibited the CCI director general from acting on the evidence seized during a dawn raid of 19 September 2014. The dawn raid in question was the first to be conducted by the director general and formed part of the investigation into JCB India Limited's alleged abuse of its dominant position.
The Competition Commission of India (CCI) has dismissed allegations of resale price maintenance against Kaff Appliances (India) Pvt Ltd under Section 26(6) of the Competition Act 2002. The CCI noted that it could not conclusively establish that the evidence (ie, an email, a caution notice and a legal notice) had been used as instruments to impose a resale price maintenance on the informant. Further, the presence of many competing dealers suggested a fair degree of intra-brand competition.
In January 2019 the Competition Commission of India imposed a penalty of Rs85,01,364 on Godrej & Boyce Manufacturing Co Ltd for its role in a bilateral ancillary cartel, which violated Section 3(3) read with Section 3(1) of the Competition Act. Godrej's role in the cartel had been revealed via a leniency application filed by Panasonic Corporation, Japan on behalf of itself and its Indian subsidiary.
The Competition Commission of India (CCI) recently decided not to investigate allegations that the National Stock Exchange had abused its dominant position due to a potential jurisdictional conflict with the Securities Exchange Board of India. This decision was a surprise turn from the CCI's earlier position and is likely to have been influenced by a Supreme Court judgment which warned the CCI against deciding technical issues relating to the terms of a licence granted by the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India.
In December 2018 the division bench of the Delhi High Court reconfirmed an earlier decision and held that simultaneous inquiries could be undertaken into Monsanto and its directors and officers for their alleged violation of the Competition Act 2002. The court also clarified that under Section 27 of the act, penalties could be imposed on the individuals in question based on their Monsanto-derived income.
In December 2018 the Supreme Court finally ended the jurisdictional conflict between the Competition Commission of India (CCI) and the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI). By invoking the doctrine of harmonious construction, the court balanced the scales and gave the TRAI the power to first determine the rights and obligations of parties, after which – if the TRAI believes that anti-competitive activity has occurred – the CCI's jurisdiction can be invoked.
In November 2018 the Competition Commission of India disagreed with the director general's findings and dismissed allegations that GAIL (India) Ltd had imposed unfair and one-sided conditions in its gas supply agreements (GSAs) with seven other companies and thereby abused its dominant position as the sole supplier of regasified liquefied natural gas. The main allegations concerned the take-or-pay liability and letter of credit clauses in the GSAs, which were allegedly one-sided and biased.
The Competition Commission of India (CCI) has dismissed allegations that the Retail and Dispensing Chemists Association limited and controlled the free supply of products by charging the manufacturers of pharmaceutical products for a product information service (PIS). In making its decision, the CCI relied on the order passed in Santuka Associates Pvt Ltd, which found that the decisive factor in determining whether the practice of issuing PIS charges is anti-competitive lies in the nature of the charges.
The Competition Commission of India has dismissed allegations that Flipkart India Private Limited and Flipkart Internet Private Limited abused their dominant position. Interestingly, although information was filed against the Flipkart entities, the commission held a preliminary conference with Amazon and concluded that no one player in the market could be said to have a dominant position at this stage of the market's evolution.
In November 2018 the Competition Commission of India (CCI) dismissed the allegations of cartelisation in the determination of flashlight prices against Eveready Industries India Limited, Panasonic Energy India Co Ltd, Indo National Ltd, Geep Industries (India) Pvt Ltd and the Association of Indian Dry Cell Manufacturers. Notably, the CCI exonerated the opposing parties despite the existence of two leniency applications.
In 2018 the Competition Commission of India (CCI) issued a notification which further amended the CCI (Procedure in Regard to the Transaction of Business Relating to Combinations) Regulations 2011. Following strong opposition from industry groups, the CCI has dropped a controversial amendment. This article highlights the notification's most important changes.
In October 2018 the Supreme Court issued a landmark judgment in which it upheld the appeals of 44 liquefied petroleum gas cylinder manufacturers and dismissed the earlier finding of bid rigging. In its decision, the court emphasised the need to evaluate the market structure and conditions before determining whether a cartel exists. This judgment signifies a new direction in case law and is likely to change the manner in which India's antitrust regulator evaluates evidence of cartels in future.
The Competition Commission of India (CCI) recently imposed a penalty on Italian company Esaote SpA – a world leader in dedicated magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) – and its Indian subsidiary. According to the CCI's order, the Esaote group had abused its dominant position in the market through its sale of dedicated standing/tilting MRI machines to the informant. However, the CCI chair disagreed with the relevant market adopted by the majority of the commission.
The Competition Commission of India (CCI) recently awarded Panasonic Energy India Co Ltd the first-ever 100% penalty reduction in a leniency decision. In making its decision, the CCI observed that the investigation had been initiated based on information provided by Panasonic and that its cooperation had been essential for establishing a contravention of the Competition Act. Thus, the information provided by Panasonic was deemed to have added significant value to the investigation.
In its third-ever leniency decision, the Competition Commission of India (CCI) granted a penalty reduction to four of the six leniency applicants. The allegations in the case concerned bid rigging in five tenders floated by the Pune Municipal Corporation in 2014 for the establishment of solid waste processing plants. The CCI found that all six of the opposing parties had participated in bid rigging or collusive bidding in contravention of the Competition Act.
The Supreme Court recently clarified that the determination of the relevant market is not a mandatory pre-condition for assessing an alleged violation of Section 3 of the Competition Act. In its application, the Competition Commission of India argued that the Supreme Court had previously given the impression that the relevant market must be determined in all cases concerning Section 3 of the act.
The Supreme Court recently set aside a National Company Law Tribunal order and restored the appeal which had been dismissed thereby. The appeal concerned a stay order which the Competition Commission of India had granted subject to the appellant paying a sum equal to 10% of the total penalty. In its landmark ruling, the court confirmed that the right to appeal envisioned by the Competition Act cannot be restricted by the requirement that a pre-deposit be paid.
The Competition Commission of India (CCI) recently closed its investigation into the Kerala Cement Dealers' Association (KCDA) and Ramco Cements Ltd. The director general had initiated an investigation based on allegations that Ramco had been prevented from supplying cement after refusing to follow the KCDA's instructions to do so at an unfair price. However, the CCI held that the evidence collected by the director general was insufficient to prove a contravention of the Competition Act.
The Division Bench of the Delhi High Court has upheld the right of a person summoned by the director general to be accompanied and represented by counsel. However, the Competition Commission of India has raised concerns that permitting the active participation of counsel during depositions may not be conducive to the public interest at large.