The Appointments Committee of the Cabinet (ACC) has approved appointing three new Members to the Competition Commission of India (CCI).
The three members who have been appointed are Anil Agrawal, former Director General of Police and former Additional Secretary at the Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade (DPIIT); Deepak Anurag, retired Deputy Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) and Sweta Kakkad, an advocate.
With these appointments, the Centre has ensured that the lack of quorum issue affecting the watchdog’s functioning over the last 11 months has been squarely solved.
Of the three new Members, two Members —Sweta Kakkad and Anil Kumar Agrawal— were sworn in as Members by the CCI Chairperson here on Tuesday.
Kakkad, who has over two decades of litigation experience in commercial and corporate litigation, is the first person in CCI’s history to have been appointed to a top role at the Commission with some prior private sector experience.
In the past two decades, she had, among other roles, also served as an interim Chief Compliance Officer of WhatsApp LLC between May 2021 and August 2022.
In recent years, the Centre has appointed exemplary persons who had done private sector stints to the topmost role at the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) and Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI).
With the sole CCI Member, Sangeeta Verma, having superannuated on Friday, the competition watchdog had been rendered into a single-member body under its Chairperson Ravneet Kaur.
However, now the government has swung into action and fast-tracked the appointment of Members to fill the void.
Ravneet Kaur had assumed charge at the helm of this regulatory body in May this year. After the superannuation of erstwhile Member B S Bishnoi in August, the Competition Commission only had its Chairperson Ravneet Kumar and Sangeeta Verma. Bishnoi’s superannuation had rendered the CCI inquorate with three Members being the criterion for satisfying the quorum norms.
The CCI has been invoking the Doctrine of Necessity (when quorum issues had arisen earlier) to clear M&A cases.
CCI plays a crucial role in an open economy structure that India has adopted. As a watchdog, it promotes fair competition and prevents anti-competitive practices in the Indian market.
It maybe recalled that after the erstwhile Chairman Ashok Kumar Gupta demited office on October 25 last year, the CCI had been inquorate for seven months till the new Chairperson Ravneet Kaur assumed office in May this year.
The Corporate Affairs Ministry (MCA) had, on January 23 this year, invited applications for the three CCI Members posts and kept the last date for submitting applications at March 9. However, in April this year, the last date for receiving applications was extended to May 1. Chief Justice of India D Y Chandrachud-led Panel had shortlisted candidates in May 2023 for the three CCI members’ posts.