Standing Committee of Finance headed by Jayant Sinha will meet on December 8 to consider and adopt the draft Report on Competition (amendment) Bill 2022.

The Parliamentary Panel has also on that day summoned Law Secretary Niten Chandra to brief them on certain provisions of the Bill, sources close to the development said. 

One of the issues on which Panel could specifically discuss with the Law Secretary is the need for clarity on the provision in the Bill that allows DG (inspection) to examine legal advisors. The point that needs clarity is whether this provision will violate client-attorney privileged communication under the Indian Evidence Act, they added.

Post the interaction with the Law Secretary, the Standing Committee is expected to, on the same day, adopt the Report on the Bill.

To reduce litigations

The proposed adoption of the draft Report on December 8 is a pointer that the Government could in the upcoming Winter Session take up for passage the Competition (amendment) Bill 2022, introduced in Lok Sabha on August 5. 

This is even as the Competition Bill does not form part of the initial list of 16 Bills that the Government intends to take up for passage in the upcoming winter session. 

The Competition (amendment) Bill, among other things, seeks to broaden the scope of anti-competitive agreements, speed up approvals of mergers and acquisitions and reduce litigations. 

Lowering time limit

The Bill also provides reduction in time limit for approval of combinations from 210 days to 150 days and forming a prima facie opinion by the Commission within 20 days for expeditious approval of combinations.

Besides introducing the concept of deal value threshold of ₹2,000 crore so as to primarily bring Big tech’s offshore M&A deals (with India nexus) under CCI’s merger control regime, the Bill proposes introduction of limitation period of three years for filing information on anti-competitive agreements and abuse of dominant position before the Commission. The Bill also seeks to introduce settlement and commitment framework to reduce litigations. 

It also proposes to introduce a “Leniency Plus” programme — a new cartel detecting tool —that would encourage companies already under investigation for one cartel to report other cartels unknown to the competition regulator.