Finding prima facie evidence of violations, the Competition Commission of India (CCI) has ordered a detailed probe against accounting watchdog Institute of Chartered Accountants of India (ICAI) with regard to alleged discriminatory practices in organising professional education programmes for its members. It is alleged that the ICAI’s policy on continuing professional education (CPE) scheme is discriminatory and abusive.
The complaint filed by Arun Anandagiri, who is a qualified chartered accountant, has said the institute’s CPE policy does not allow any other organisation to provide the service of holding CPE seminars other than that offered by the ICAI’s programme organising unit.
Observing that there “seems to be force in the allegations”, the CCI has ordered its Director-General to carry out a detailed probe against the institute in the matter.
The watchdog refers cases to the DG when prima facie there is evidence of violating competition norms.
“If during the course of investigation, involvement of any other party is found, the DG shall investigate the conduct of such other parties including conduct of group companies..,” the order dated February 28 and released on Wednesday said.
The probe could also look into the role of persons who were in charge of and were responsible for the conduct of the businesses of such companies.
According to the Commission, it is not the case that the activity of ICAI in organising CPE seminars is a not-for-profit exercise.
Citing the ICAI’s annual report for 2012-13, the complainant has submitted that the institute earned gross revenues of Rs.45 crore from organising seminars and conferences, which accounted for around 8 per cent of the institute’s total revenue.
As per the Commission, members of the institute “had no option but to attend the seminars organised by the ICAI (whatever be the quality of seminars) to get the requisite CPE credits.