Special Session with Dr. Sangeeta Verma Chairperson, Competition Commission of India held today at The Lalit Great Eastern
Merchants’ Chamber of Commerce & Industry (MCCI) on April 28, Friday, 2023, organised a special session on the “Importance of Competition Law for Industry” at The Lalit Great Eastern, Kolkata wherein the Chairperson, Competition Commission of India, Dr. Sangeeta Verma was the chief guest. Other eminent speakers were Prof. Dr. NIrmal Kanti Chakrabarti, Vice Chancellor, The West Bengal National University of Juridical Sciences (NUJS) Prof. V K Unni, Professor, Public Policy & Management, IIM Calcutta, and Shri Manish Gupta, President, Institute of Company Secretaries of India (ICSI).
Shri Namit Bajoria, President, of MCCI, gave the welcome address.
Dr Sangeeta Verma, Chairperson, CCI, said, CCI’s mandate is to ensure that competition takes place on the basis of merit. Pointing out to the dominance of digital intermediaries, she said some digital intermediaries or big tech companies were acting both as intermediate and sellers making abusive use of their market dominance. “This may have the potential to harm the digital market. The government of India has set up a committee of digital competition to see that there is no abuse of dominance from Digital platforms.
There have been a number of anti-competitive activities taking place. There have been 1200 cases of anti-competitive practices and abuse of market dominance. The newly amended Competition Act of 2023 has enlarged the scope of CCI and CCI has introduced a compliance mechanism that would promote ease of doing business and make a review of acquisitions and mergers faster. Dr. Verma said 25% of the CCI’s activities (clearances) happened through green channels and it was part of the Competition Act of 2023. The newly amended Act focuses on a market correction.
The amendment of the Competition Act 2022, which brought in the new Competition Act of 2023 has reduced the overall merger review timeline from 210 to 150 calendar days and has also cut down the time granted to the CCI to form a preliminary view on a transaction from 30 working days to 30 calendar days, Verma said adding that the threshold limit of deal value has been brought to Rs 2,000 crore for bringing under the notice of the CCI.
She said under the Competition Act of 2023 self-declaration of guild pertaining to anti-competitive agreements between a supplier and a customer or abuse of dominance can be incentivized. The parties can settle matters with a relatively lower penalty and can settle matters by undertaking corrective measures to resolve cases expeditiously.
But for cartelization penalties will be imposed and there is no provision for settlement. Under the newly amended Act CCI has enlarged its legal position and has made an entity obligatory, acting in agreement with a cartel to either distance itself or report the same to the CCI to escape or minimize penalty, Verma said.
On the issue of penalizing on the basis of global turnover in place of relevant turnover, Dr.Verma said that the amended Act has done so following the Competition Laws practiced worldwide.
Both Prof. Unni of IIM Calcutta and Prof. Dr. NIrmal Kanti Chakrabarti, Vice Chancellor, NUJS advocated in favour of regulation of market dominance pointing out the challenges that digital marketing has brought. Dr. Chakraborti said CCI has to closely look into the aspect of the platform market.
Shri Namit Bajoria, President, MCCI in his welcome address said, there has been major consolidation taking place in the business world, which could augur the dominance of certain companies. The CCI will have to see that there is no abuse of dominance. He asked whether the provision of “global turnover” was consistent with the principle of relevant turnover that the Supreme Court upheld.
According to the Competition Appellate Tribunal (COMPAT), relevant turnover means turnover derived from the sales of goods and services.
The session ended with a hearty Vote of Thanks delivered by Smt. Mamta Binani, Chairperson, Council on Legal & Corporate Governance, MCCI.