The competition law in India was enacted by the parliament in the year 2002 in the form of the Competition Act, 2002. It replaced the Monopolies and Restrictive Trade Practices Act 1969 which is popularly known as the MRTP act 1969. Because it had become irrelevant and obsolete on account of continuous development and changes in international economic affairs and more particularly in competition law in India. That’s why the government felt a need to set a committee to discuss the issues on competition policy and prepared a report recommending modifications in the MRTP act. Thus it ultimately led to the replacement of the previous act by the Competition Act, 2002. One of the most important elements of this act is the establishment of the Competition Commission in India.
The objective of the Competition Act 2002
The preamble states the aim of act as ‘keeping given the economic development of the country … to prevent practices harming competition, to promote and sustain competition in markets, to protect interests of consumers and to ensure freedom of trade’. This is a step towards the implementation and enforcement of the competition policy in the country and to prevent anti-competitive business practices. This act aims to protect the interests of consumers, ensures the freedom of trade carried on by the different groups and companies, promotes and sustains competition in markets.
Establishment of the Competition Commission of India
Chapter 3 of this act provides for the establishment of a Competition Commission of India. This Commission should comprise a chairperson and other members (2 to 6) who are to be appointed by the Central Government.
It is compulsory that the chairperson and all the members of the Commission should possess special knowledge and professional experience of not less than 15 years in economics, business, commercial law, international trade, etc.
Functions of the Competition Commission of India
- To eliminate wrong and adverse competition practices.
- To sustain competition, consumer protection
- Inquiry of agreements of enterprises.
- Keep a check on practices and ensure that the organizations are continuously complying with the provisions, issuing interim orders, etc.
Amendments to the Competition Act 2002
Competition (Amendment) Act, 2007
This act was amended in 2007 to allow domestic as well as international competition in the Indian economy. This has been done with the view to have economic development and liberalization. Changes under this amendment act were as follows:
- The Competition Commission of India to function as a regulator to prevent and regulate anti-competitive practices in the country.
- Also, this amendment made it necessary to give notice to CCI in case of any merger or amalgamation within the 30 days and if the company fails to provide such notice then a penalty can be imposed by the Commission.
- It also provided for the establishment of Competition Appellate Tribunal, which shall work under three-member quasi-judicial bodies headed by the chairman who shall be the judge of Supreme Court or Chief Justice of the High Court.
Competition (Amendment) Act, 2009
This act was again amended in 2009. This amendment provides for the transfer of cases pending with Monopolies and Restrictive Trade Practices Commission to the Competition Appellate Tribunal or National Consumer Commission.
Penalties under the Competition Act 2002
This act also provides various penalties and punishments in case of non-compliance with the provisions and indulge in wrong practices:
- If any person contravenes any direction or provision of the act then he shall be punished for imprisonment which may extend to one year and also he shall be liable to a penalty not exceeding Rs. 10, 00, 000.
- Also if any person doesn’t follow the direction of the Commission, then the Commission can impose a penalty of Rs. 1 Lac for each day during which such failure continues.
- If a person makes a false statement or omission in furnishing material information then he can be punished with the penalty of 50 Lac to 1 crore rupees.
- If any person furnishes false information or documents or alters or destroys such documents or information, then a penalty which may extend to 10 Lac rupees can be imposed on that person.
Review of Orders of Competition Commission
The act also provides for the review of orders of the Commission. So if any person is not satisfied by the order of Commission, he can apply to the Commission for its review within 30 days from the date of the order. Also, the Commission may entertain the review application even after the expiry of 30 days, if it is proved that the applicant was prevented by a sufficient cause from applying on time. Also, the Commission cannot modify or set aside the order without hearing the person in whose favor the order is given.
Provision for Appeal
The provision of appealing is also provided under this act. In case any person is aggrieved by any decision or order of the Commission, can file an appeal to the Supreme Court within 60 days from the day when the communication of decision or order by the Commission.