Pleas against Competition Act: verdict reserved

NEW DELHI, NOV. 29. The Supreme Court today reserved verdict on two petitions challenging the constitutional validity of the provisions of the Competition Act, which provided for a technical expert to head the Competition Commission of India (CCI).

A three-member Bench comprising the Chief Justice, R.C. Lahoti, Justice G.P. Mathur and Justice P.K. Balasubramanyan, reserved the judgment at the conclusion of arguments by counsel for petitioners, Brahma Dutt and R. Gandhi and the Centre.

In its affidavit filed last month the Centre said ``the CCI chairperson should be an expert and not a judge'' and only the chief of an appellate tribunal would be a judicial person.

During the last hearing, the Bench was not impressed with the Centre's arguments and granted it time till today to consider fresh proposals to amend the Act further. But, the Centre today stuck to its stand.

Counsel for the Centre, Tankha submitted that international experience of the functioning of such regulatory bodies abroad had shown that heading of such commissions by persons with relevant experience had been found to be efficacious. He said the amendments proposed by the Centre would meet the grievances of the petitioner.

Senior counsel R. K. Jain, appearing for Mr. Dutt, contended that the composition of the CCI and its functions would be going to show that the CCI was to perform judicial functions, which could not be usurped by the executive. He said the chairperson should be a retired judge who should be selected either by the Chief Justice of India (CJI) or his nominee.

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