Competition Law Bill in winter session

NEW DELHI, NOV. 15. The Government, keen on introducing the Competition Law Bill in the coming winter session of Parliament, has put the draft Bill on the website of the Department of Company Affairs, www.nic.in/dca, inviting suggestions for improvement, if any.

The draft Bill approved by the Union Law Minister, Mr. Arun Jaitley, in consultation with the core group, seeks to foster and maintain competition in the Indian market to subserve consumers, while protecting the freedom of economic action of various market participants.

It also seeks to prevent practices which affect competition and to establish the Competition Commission of India (CCI) which is vested with powers to implement the proposed Indian Competition Act (ICA) and also play the role of competition advocacy.

The Union Law Minister, Mr. Arun Jaitley, along with the officials of the DCA was scheduled to make a presentation on Wednesday about the competition Bill to the Finance Minister, Mr. Yashwant Sinha, who is said to be keen on seeing the ICA passed to give an impetus to the second generation economic reforms, according to Government sources.

The sources added that by April 2001, all Quantitative Restrictions (QRs) will have been phased out and with low level tariffs already negotiated during WTO rounds, India would be facing stiff competition from abroad. Practically, the entire range of consumer goods would bear the brunt of open imports, combined with a lowering of tariff walls in future. It is for this reason that the Government is keen on enacting the CCI.

The Bill, based on the report of the S.V.S. Raghavan committee, suggests several pre-requisites for competition policy, contours of competition policy, agreement among enterprises, abuse of dominance, acquisitions and mergers to be dealt with by the proposed CCI.

According to the Bill, mergers beyond a threshold limit of Rs. 500 crores or more and of the group to which merged entity belongs at Rs. 2,000 crores or more worth of assets should require pre-notification.

The Bill seeks to repeal the Monopolies and Restrictive Trade Practices Act, 1969, and scrap the MRTP Commission. After the CCI is established and the MRTP Commission abolished, all cases of unfair trade practices before the MRTP Commission will be transferred to the regular courts under the Consumer Protection Act. The pending monopolies and restrictive trade practices cases will be taken up for adjudication by the CCI from the stages they are in.

The DCA today said the suggestions from the business community and others on improving the Bill can be sent within 10 days to Mr. G.P. Prabhu, Joint Secretary in the Ministry of Law, DCA, 5th Floor, A-Wing, Shastri Bhawan, New Delhi-110001 or email to: gpprabhu@sb.nic.in or fax 011-3389088.