BRICS Grouping must come together to develop a robust mechanism for regulating digital markets, Ashok Bhushan, Chairman, National Company Law Appellate Tribunal (NCLAT), said on Thursday.

Inaugurating the 8th BRICS International Competition Conference (ICC), Bhushan said it has to be recognised that these digital markets are global in nature and scope. Thus, international cooperation and exchange would be necessary to reduce the possibilities of regulatory arbitrage and to keep abreast of the regulatory developments in other jurisdictions, he added.

Balancing act

A robust mechanism to regulate digital markets was necessary to strike a delicate balance between allowing digital platforms to innovate and grow while preventing anti-competitive practices that harm consumers and businesses, according to Bhushan.

Noting that competition policy and legislation have developed significantly in BRICS countries over the years, Bhushan called for further strengthening of cooperation and collaboration in the realm of competition policy.

India has joined a League of Nations that recognises that, irrespective of the purported benefits of these platforms to markets and consumers, strong antitrust enforcement is an essential element of the overall public policy design governing these companies, he said.

Driven by data proliferation, Bhushan noted that digital technologies have transformed the market landscape across countries.

This critical gateway position of platforms and their control over data and market access points are giving rise to a range of issues emanating from information asymmetry and balancing the bargaining power, he said.


Referring to sustainability as a critical concern in the present century, the NCLAT Chairman mentioned that the incorporation of sustainability into competition law has the potential to stimulate innovation, the development of cleaner technologies, renewable energy sources, and sustainable solutions across various industries.

“Effective cooperation amongst the BRICS nations in striking the right balance between promoting sustainability and competition is pertinent in order to deal with the complex challenges,” he added.

Bhushan also said that NCLAT as the Appellate Authority for CCI orders has contributed significantly towards the evolving competition jurisprudence in India.

In this regard, he cited the Google vs CCI case, noting that NCLAT had partially upheld the CCI order against Google for abusing its dominant position in Android mobile devices. NCLAT had upheld the penalty of $161 million that the CCI had imposed on Google for anti-competitive conduct, he added.

Speaking at the BRICS ICC, Ravneet Kaur, Chairperson, Competition Commission of India (CCI), said that issues related to the digital economy are extremely important for the competition regulator. She highlighted that CCI had in the last one year issued three orders in the realm of digital markets, including one on Google’s anti-competitive practices in Android licensing, where penalties were imposed and specific behavioural directions were also directed.

Kaur also said that CCI has set up a digital markets and data unit to provide insights on policy matters in digital markets, fostering cooperation among various stakeholders.

Brazil’s competition authorities plan to release the BRICS report on digital markets — discussed at the 8th BRICS ICC — in November this year.

Kaur later told businessline that BRICS Competition authorities are looking to enhance their cooperation among themselves in areas like market studies, systems, and processes. BRICS is also looking to integrate sustainability guidelines into their respective competition law frameworks, she added.

Recognising that digital technology can be a force multiplier in achieving growth, inclusion, and innovation, Kaur said that sharing experiences would be crucial in optimising the efforts of competition authorities in keeping digital markets competitive and contestable. She stressed the need for building collective capacity amongst the BRICS in the fields of artificial intelligence, blockchains, and algorithms.