Business Standard

How a case proceeds in Competition Commission

Deepak Patel 

On filing a case
Any person can file an application or information before the Secretary of Commission. CCI has to judge if there is a prima facie case or not within 15 days. If CCI finds that there is a prima facie case, it has to form its on the case within 60 days. However, in practice, it takes much longer.

On seeking evidence
At the prima facie stage, the CCI is not required to and generally does not ask for evidence from all parties involved. "The CCI has the discretion to call or not call the opposite party for the prima facie hearing," says Shweta Sroff Chopra, Partner-Competition Practice, Amarchand Mangaldas & Suresh A Shroff & Co.

On informing the opposite party

Generally, the opposite party is informed of the case only when DG, during the course of its investigation, sends a notice to the party. CCI does not send the prima facie order to the opposite party.

On sharing DG's report with opposite parties
In case the DG does not find a violation, the DG's report is not shared with the parties. However, in case of violation by the opposite parties, once DG submits its report to the CCI, the Commission shares the report with the parties and objections to the DG's report are invited.

After the objections to the DG's report are filed by the parties, the CCI conducts oral hearings in the matter where the parties are allowed to make oral submissions before the CCI to support their case.

On time taken by DG to complete the investigation
When a case comes up for investigation, the DG is required to submit a report on his findings within a period of 60 days. However, the DG generally requests for several extensions before the investigation report is actually submitted to the CCI.

The DG generally takes 8-15 months to complete an investigation, depending on the complexity of the investigation and number of parties involved and such extensions are usually necessary for a fair investigation to be undertaken.

On the process followed in merger cases
In mergers and acquisitions (combination) cases, on receipt of a notification form, the CCI is required to form a prima facie within a period of 30 days. This is Phase I of the review process. If the CCI requires the parties to remove defects in the notification or to provide additional information, it "stops the clock" until the additional information is provided.

This means that it can take much longer than 30 days for the CCI to form such a prima facie To date, all combinations notified to the CCI have been cleared in Phase I of the review process.

If the CCI forms a prima facie opinion that a combination causes or is likely to cause an adverse effect on competition, a detailed investigation will follow which is called Phase II of investigation.

On whether CCI is bound by law to give final order within a certain time period
The Competition Act does not prescribe a maximum time limit for an investigation initiated - from filing of the information to the final order, in respect of an anti-competitive agreement or an abuse of dominance.

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First Published: Sun, September 28 2014. 22:34 IST