A Division Bench of National Company Law Appellate Tribunal (NCLAT) comprising Justice Rakesh Kumar, Member (judicial) and Ashok Kumar Mishra, Member (Technical) has concluded its marathon hearing in the tyre cartel case and has reserved its order in the nearly decade-old matter.

After a prolonged legal battle before the Madras High Court and the Supreme Court, the tyre cartel matter is now before the NCLAT, which was hearing a batch of appeals from the top five tyre companies — Apollo Tyres, MRF, CEAT, JK Tyre and Birla Tyres— and their association ATMA. 

The Competition Commission of India (CCI) had in February this year imposed a cumulative penalty of ₹ 1,788 crore on these five tyre companies and ATMA. These tyre companies had appealed against the order. 

The matter arose out of a representation made in 2013 by the All India Tyre Dealers Federation (AITDF) to the Corporate Affairs Ministry, which had passed it on to the CCI. 

AITDF had alleged that five major tyre companies —accounting for 90 per cent of tyre industry production-were engaging in “price parallelism” in the profitable replacement market.

The competition watchdog had, in August 2018, passed a final order against the five tyre companies and their association. The CCI had noted that the tyre manufacturers had exchanged price sensitive data amongst themselves through the platform of their association and had taken collective decisions on tyre prices. CCI had held the five  manufacturers and ATMA guilty of contravention of the provisions of Section 3 of Competition Act, which prohibit anti-competitive agreements, including cartels, during 2011-2012.

The CCI’s order was appealed before Madras High Court by MRF and the HC had, in January this year, dismissed the appeal. 

The SC in January end this year dismissed the SLPs filed before the apex court. Following this, the CCI had, In February, imposed cumulative penalty of ₹1,788 crore on the five tyre companies and ATMA. 

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