COMPETITION LAW AND ITS SCOPE IN INDIA
What is Competition Law?
Competition Law aims at eliminating the anti-competitive behaviour of the companies. In the US it is known as Anti-Trust Law and in China, it is known as Anti-Monopoly Law. If we go by the very literal meanings of the law, one can understand that it tries to prohibit unfair competition and helps in promoting fair competition in the market.
Historical Background of Competition Law in India
The history of this law can be traced from the MRTP (Monopolies and Restrictive Trade Practices) Act, 1969, which was the very first legislation in India with respect to Competition Law. The main aim of this legislation was to control the monopolistic nature of some companies. In order to stop the accumulation of wealth in a few hands, this legislation came into existence. However, there were discrepancies in this act regarding equal competition between the private and the public sector, issues relating to abuse of cartels, bid rigging, price fixing etc. This act became redundant when the economic reform of 1991 took place and India accepted the GATT and TRIPS agreement.
Competition Act, 2002
This Act was enacted by the parliament in the year 2002 and it replaced the MRTP Act of 1969. This legislation gave birth to Competition Commission of India (CCI) and it was given the responsibility to prevent those activities or practices that have an adverse impact on competition in India. This Act was amended two times in the year 2007 and 2009 respectively. One of the main goals of this act is to promote free and fair competition and look after the interests of the consumers.
The three main duties of this commission are as follows:
1. To prohibit practices that are likely to have an adverse effect on competition in the market.
2. Prohibition of dominance in the market.
3. To prohibit acquisitions, mergers, amalgamations etc. between enterprises which have or are likely to have an adverse effect on competition in markets in India.
The enforcement of this Act gets its aid from mutual international support as well as the enforcement network all across the world.
SCOPE OF COMPETITION LAW IN INDIA
For someone who wants to pursue a career in competition, Law must be well versed with certain economic concepts such as free and fair competition, price-fixing, cartels, monopoly, horizontal and vertical contracts etc. Due to globalization, the scope of this law has widened to a large extent. Many companies both domestic, as well as international ones, are regulated under this act whenever they abuse their dominant position or indulge in anti-competitive practices. Almost all tier 1 Law firms have a well-established competition law practice and have got the ball rolling for the same in India.
FM Mrs Nirmala Sitharaman also highlighted the need to protect the domestic industries from foreign companies by ensuring fair play and this task has been given to CCI. She emphasized the role of CCI in defining the action plan against foreign businesses and to cope with the challenges that are being posed by the digital world majorly to protect the interests of the Indian Businesses. This clearly shows that CCI is the most trusted fair market regulator in India.
In times of Covid-19, CCI is encouraging companies to work with each other and avoid cut-throat competition especially in the field of production, supply, distribution, storage etc. According to CCI sharing data on the distribution network, timings of operation, infrastructure, production etc., can help firms to continue their supply of products in the market without any sort of financial constraints. Although CCI prohibits activities that have an adverse effect on competition, this is not the same in the case of joint ventures and especially, when the joint venture is for the benefit of the consumer.
The market dynamics may keep changing with the coming and going of old and new players, but this will not really affect the role of Competition Commission of India. What CCI’s major function is to look at the terms of the deal and examine what impact it has on the current market situation, keeping in mind the relevant economic circumstances.
Sub-section 1 of Section 7 of Competition Act, 2002.
Indo Asian News Service. “CCI 2.0 to Look at What Is Developing Globally: Sitharaman to CCI.”Hindustan Times, 23 Aug. 2019, www.hindustantimes.com/business-news/act-on-global-cos-abusing-indian-firms-sitharaman-to-cci/story-ByeJaKS3dYL01dqanJcl0O.html.
Online, F. “Coronavirus Brings Business Competitors on One Table; CCI Allows Firms to Work Together.”The Financial Express, 20 Apr. 2020, www.financialexpress.com/industry/coronavirus-brings-business-competitors-on-one-table-cci-allows-firms-to-work-together/1933729.
Sanghi, Anupam. “The Significance of the Competition Commission of India.” Livemint, 16 June 2014, www.livemint.com/Opinion/nKY6PoaDeUi9NP2aOhECYL/The-significance-of-the-Competition-Commission-of-India.html.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Rudra Prasad is a 4th year Law student, who is currently pursuing Law from NMIMS, Kirit P. Mehta, School of Law, Mumbai.
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