Competition Law in Transition: Multiplicity of Regulators

In competition law, there seems to be a duopoly situation as far as the regulatory sphere is concerned. The Competition Commission of India (CCI) is already in place with several provisions of the Competition Act, 2002 having been notified to take effect from May 20, 2009. Moreover, the CCI has also begun acting on cases involving cartelisation. Curiously enough, the Business Standard reports that the erstwhile regulator in this arena, the Monopolies and Restrictive Trade Practices Commission (MRTPC) continues to be in existence and continues to receive cases as it is yet to be dissolved:

“The government is yet to notify Section 66 of the Competition Act and unless it is notified MRTPC would continue to function like before,” said an official of MRTPC. In fact, added the official, MRTPC has been getting new cases even after the CCI has became operational.

India’s antitrust body CCI, which would ultimately replace MRTPC, is an independent body responsible for investigating mergers, market shares and conditions and the regulation of firms. Section 66 of the Competition Act deals with repealing and dissolution of the MRTPC Act, 1969.

With the operationalisation of CCI, MRTPC was supposed to stop entertaining new cases and was to deal with pending cases for two years before being completely dissolved. However, MRTPC is not only fully functional but is also taking fresh cases though it’s been facing acute staff shortage at all levels. “We have been getting at least 30 cases in a month,” said the official.

While the merger control provisions under the Competition Act have been delayed pending notification of the detailed regulations, it appears that there is some overlap regarding the role of the CCI in other areas as well.

About the author

Umakanth Varottil

Umakanth Varottil is an Associate Professor at the Faculty of Law, National University of Singapore. He specializes in corporate law and governance, mergers and acquisitions and cross-border investments. Prior to his foray into academia, Umakanth was a partner at a pre-eminent law firm in India.

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