- The Competition Commission of India (CCI) is a statutory body of the Government of India responsible for enforcing the Competition Act, 2002.
- The Commission consists of one Chairperson and six Members who shall be appointed by the Central Government.
- The Competition Act, 2002 was enacted by the Parliament of India and governs Indian competition law. It replaced the archaic The Monopolies and Restrictive Trade Practices Act, 1969.
Laws governing competition have been dubbed the "Magna Carta of free enterprise." A competent competition commission is required in an era when nations are moving from closed to open economies to ensure the survival of local industries while also reaping the benefits of increased foreign investment and competition.
Competition is essential to the sustainability of our free enterprise system and economic liberty. Because markets might face failures and distortions, competition legislation is required. Cartels, abuse of power, and other activities that damage economic efficiency and consumer welfare can be perpetrated by a variety of parties. As a result, competition legislation must function as a regulatory force capable of establishing effective control over economic activity.
The Competition Commission of India (CCI) is India's primary national competition regulator. It is a statutory entity under the Ministry of Corporate Affairs that is in charge of executing the Competition Act, 2002 in order to encourage competition and prevent acts that have a significant negative impact on competition in India. The CCI investigates issues to see if they have a harmful impact on competition.The Commission was founded in 2003, although it did not become fully operational until March 2009. It seeks to create a competitive environment in the Indian economy by proactively engaging all players, the government, and foreign jurisdictions.
Objectives of the Commission
The main objectives of the commission are elucidated in the preamble to the Competition Act, 2002. It states that the objective of the Act is to provide, keeping in view the economic development of the country, for the establishment of a Commission
- to prevent practices from having adverse effects on competition,
- to promote and sustain competition in markets,
- to protect the interests of consumers and;
- to ensure freedom of trade carried on by other participants in markets, in India, and for matters connected therewith or incidental thereto.
These objectives are to be achieved by striving to do the following:
- Make markets operate for customers' benefit and well being.
- Support fair and healthy competition in economic activities in the country for quicker and more inclusive economic growth and development.
- Implement competition policies with the goal of achieving the most effective use of economic resources.
- Develop and maintain effective relationships and contacts with sectoral regulators to ensure that sectoral regulatory regulations are aligned with competition legislation.
- Carry out effective competition advocacy and disseminate information on the benefits of competition to all stakeholders in order to build and foster a competitive culture in the Indian economy.
Composition of the Commission
The Commission previously had one chairperson with a minimum of two and a maximum of six members.The Cabinet reduced this to three members and one chairperson. This action was done to provide a faster turnaround in hearings and approval, consequently driving corporate business operations and resulting in more employment prospects in the country.
The Chairperson and each other Member of the Commission must be of high ability and integrity, and must have been or is qualified to be a judge of a High Court, or have special knowledge of, and relevant expertise of at least fifteen years in global trade, economics, industry, commerce, law, financial management, accounting and finance, management, industry, public affairs, and administrationor in any other subject that the Central Government believes may be relevant to the Commission.
Currently, the Commission is made up of one Chairperson and six Members selected by the Central Government.The commission is a quasi-judicial entity that issues opinions to statutory agencies as well as handles other situations. The Chairperson and the other Members must be full-time members.The CCI is currently chaired by Ashok Kumar Gupta.
Functions and Roles of the CCI
The commission undertakes multiple functions and roles to regulate and facilitate healthy competition in the economy,
- The Competition Commission is India's competition watchdog and an antitrust regulator for smaller businesses that cannot compete with large corporations.
- The Competition Act assures that no company takes advantage of its 'dominant position' in a market by restricting supply, manipulating purchasing prices, or participating in measures that hinder other companies from joining the market.
- It eliminates anti-competitive behavior in India's markets, promotes and sustains competition, protects consumer interests, and ensures trade freedom.
- It renders opinions on competition issues in response to a referral from a statutory authority established under any legislation, as well as engages in competition advocacy, public awareness, and competition training.
- If the group's assets and turnover surpass a certain monetary amount, the Competition Commission of India would be alerted (CCI).
- CCI has the authority to give warnings to firms that export to India if it considers they are distorting competition in India.
- The CCI also ensures communication and coordination with other economic and regulatory agencies, guaranteeing that sectoral regulatory laws and competition laws are in sync.
- One of the most important roles of the CCI is to lobby for competition and competition legislation. Its mission is to educate current competitive principles to ministries, state governments, regulators, and other authorities through workshops, seminars, and the publication of papers, among other things.
- It also serves as a corporate facilitator, ensuring that a few corporations do not gain market domination and that small and large businesses coexist peacefully.
Powers of the CCI
Chapter IV of the Act elaborates on the commissions’ powers. Its main powers are mentioned below:
- The Indian Competition Commission has the jurisdiction to conduct an investigation into a specific agreement and a company's dominant position. It implies that the Competition Commission of India has the jurisdiction to launch an inquiry into any suspected infringement of its anti-competitive regulatory prohibitions, either on its own initiative or in response to information.
- The Indian Competition Commission has the right to investigate any purchase or merger if it considers it would have a negative impact on competition in the Indian market.
- The Competition Commission of India has the ability to supervise its proceedings, and it has the jurisdiction to assess monetary penalties for violations of the Competition Act of 2002.
- Section 32 of the Act empowers the CCI to "enquire" about activities that occur outside of India but have an impact on competition in India. The Commission shall have the authority to investigate any agreement or misuse of dominant position or combination if such agreement or abuse of dominant position has, or is likely to have, an adverse effect on competition in the applicable market in India, and to issue any order it deems appropriate.
- They have the ability to make an interim order in anti-competition agreements or when a dominant party abuses its position to the detriment of market competition.
Challenges to the CCI
The CCI has several obstacles in enforcing the Competition Laws. These might be both internal and external to the organization.
- The CCI faces challenges as a result of the ongoing change in the way businesses are conducted and the evolving antitrust issue.
- The digital economy and e-commerce are at the heart of the rising business models. This presents a challenge for the CCI because current competition regulations only address assets and turnovers.
- The number of CCI benches must be raised in order to provide judgements on competition issues more quickly.
- It is critical to include characteristics in competition and antitrust rules such as data accessibility, network effects, and so on to guarantee that competition laws remain applicable in a digital economy.
- There is the prospect of cartelization posing a hazard. The supply chain has been harmed as a result of the worldwide lack of supplies caused by the epidemic, and now as a result of the war in Eastern Europe.It is necessary to investigate them and guarantee that there are no monopolistic/duopolistic tendencies resulting in price increases and supply-side manipulations.
The Competition Act of 2002 is a thorough legislation designed to promote fair competition, bring India up to speed with the global economy, safeguard consumers' interests, and ensure market stability.The commission created by the legislation is intended to play a critical role in modifying the control mechanisms connected to monopolistic and restrictive trade practises, preserving the interests of the country's small and medium-sized firms, and allowing consumers greater ability to settle their grievances.
The country's competition standards evolve as the international economic environment changes. Because society is not static, the law must likewise be dynamic in order for there to be a dynamic society. With the emergence of Web 3.0, AI, IoT, Blockchain, and other technological advances, and the emergence of issues such as data privacy and protection, platform neutrality, deep undervaluing, killer acquisitions, and so on, India requires a robust competition law that is tuned to meet the needs of today's techno-legal world, enabling a true level playing field for digital market players. The CCI should comprehend the new digital era's technological complexities and if these markets are being used fairly, effectively, and openly for the advantage of consumers.