Competition Act fairly robust: CCI chief

PTI | | Updated on: Dec 06, 2021


Existing norms provide sufficient powers to ensure fair competition, says Chawla

As CCI bolsters the clamp down on unfair business practices, its chief Ashok Chawla has said the effectiveness of the “fairly robust” competition law depends on the way it is enforced.

Against the backdrop of the draft Indian Financial Code (IFC) proposing more teeth for the fair trade regulator, he also emphasised that existing norms provide sufficient powers to ensure fair competition in the market place.

‘Present form sufficient’

“We are very comfortable with the powers that we have. The (Competition) Act, as it stands today even without any amendments, is fairly robust and gives us sufficient powers ... It is an Act which is fit and proper and all depends on how it is enforced,” Chawla told PTI.

Stressing that the law does not “bind our hands in any serious manner”, Chawla said that even if the Centre does not bring in any further amendments, it does not make any changes.

As part of cracking down on unfair business practices, CCI has penalised many entities across sectors, besides directing them to “cease and desist” from such activities.

More power on the cards

Interestingly, the draft IFC has mooted a raft of provisions that could eventually lend sharper regulatory teeth for CCI.

While noting that the IFC has not reached any level of finality, Chawla said that if at all, the suggested provisions would further strengthen the reach of the Commission in competition areas.

“Obviously, the provisions will strengthen the hands of the regulator, and therefore, the hands of the culture of competition,” he noted. Among others, the draft Code has proposed giving CCI powers to issue a “binding order” in case it feels there is a need to remedy the negative effect of a particular regulation of any financial sector regulator.

Earlier proposal

During the UPA regime, there was a proposal to provide CCI chairman with powers to order dawn raids by its Director General (DG) — which is the investigation arm. Cases where there is prima-facie evidence of competition norms violations are referred to the DG for detailed probes. However, the proposal did not see light of the day and concerns were also raised by a Parliamentary panel on conferring such powers to the CCI chief. The Act allows for dawn raid by the DG, with approval from a judicial authority concerned. “The amendment Bill, which was piloted sometime ago, had the provision of giving that power of granting the warrant to the DG by the CCI chairman. The standing committee had its views and that Bill lapsed. “We will wait and see whether the Centre brings up the amendment Bill,” Chawla said.

Published on August 17, 2015
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