Bill tabled to strengthen competition watchdog

Last Updated: Tue, Dec 11, 2012 03:54 hrs

The government on Monday introduced the Competition (Amendment) Act in the Lok Sabha, to give more powers to the Competition Commission of India (CCI). The new rules would bestow powers on the CCI chairman to allow its director general to conduct “search and seizure” activities. Currently, the director general’s office, the investigative arm of CCI, has to get a warrant from a judicial magistrate for such operations. Introduced by Corporate Affairs Minister Sachin Pilot , it proposes 18 amendments to the Competition Act, 2002. These were approved by the cabinet in October, to bring more robust regulations for promoting fair trade practices.

CCI has the mandate to ensure mergers and acquisitions (M&As) between entities do not lead to a situation that affect competition in the marketplace. The Bill requires it to decide on such M&As in 180 days, instead of the present 210 days. It also seeks to insert new sections into the Act, such as Section 5A, empowering the government to raise or lower the threshold for approval of combinations by the commission. According to this section, “Notwithstanding anything in Section 5, the Central Government may, in consultation with the commission, by notification, specify different values of assets and turnover for any class or classes of enterprise for the purpose of Section 5.” The Bill also includes changes in the definitions of terms such as turnover and group.

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