After over six months of handing over the erstwhile National Anti-profiteering Authority (NAA) mandate to the Competition Commission of India (CCI), the fair trade regulator is set to resume adjudication of anti-profiteering cases. 

The adjudication of anti-profiteering cases would resume in mid-June, sources said. 

NAA is a profiteering watchdog set up after the introduction of GST, initially for two years, which was extended two times. 

In the Lucknow meeting of the GST Council in September, it was agreed that the tenure of NAA would be extended till November 30, 2022, after which it would wind up with the CCI stepping in to take over its functions.

In November last year, the revenue department had, through a notification, dismantled NAA and transferred its mandate to CCI w.e.f  December 1. 

However, as CCI was without a quorum since October 26 last year after the erstwhile Chairperson Ashok Kumar Gupta demitted office, CCI could not take up a single case for hearing and adjudication, leading to a massive pile-up of anti-profiteering cases. 

With the appointment of Ravneet Kaur as Chairperson CCI on May 15, the anti-trust watchdog is back in quorum and has resumed its normal operations, including it anti-profiteering mandate, sources added.

The National Anti-Profiteering Authority (NAA) was initially constituted by the Central Government for a term of 2 years on the recommendation of the Selection Committee headed by the Cabinet Secretary in 2017 under Section 171 of the CGST Act 2017. 

Through a notification issued on November 23, 2022 by the central government, CCI has been empowered to implement the provisions of Section 171, which mandate that any reduction in the rate of tax on any supply of goods or services or the benefit of input tax credit should be passed on to the recipient by way of commensurate reduction in prices.

CCI had initially expressed reservation over the subsuming of NAA into the competition watchdog. However, this viewpoint of CCI did not find acceptance by the central government. 

CCI insiders had contended that the mandate of the NAA is completely antithetical to the role of CCI and claimed that there wouldn’t  be any synergy in the merger. 

As a market regulator, CCI ensures fair discovery of prices through market forces, whereas NAA mandates the passing of tax benefits and input credits to consumers. There needs to be more synergy in their roles, as a lack of expertise in CCI in handling tax matters, it was submitted.

Some CCI observers have also noted that merging NAA into CCI may compromise the quality of the competition watchdog when it is taking on big tech in a big way.