Amendment to the Competition Act 2002
New Delhi, India, May 17, 2006
CUTS organised the third PARFORE meeting at the India International Centre, New Delhi, to discuss pertinent aspects related to the proposed Amendment to the Competition Act 2002.
At the meeting, there was unanimity across various members on the need to avoid a proliferation of Appellate Tribunals. They were of the view that the Competition Appellate Tribunal should also be the appellate tribunal for all sectoral regulators.
?There should be only one Appellate Body covering all sector regulators instead of a multiplicity of Sectoral Appellate Bodies to hear appeals against the orders of their respective sectoral regulators?, said Dr P C Alexander.
The meeting observed that there has often been an overlap between the functions performed by various regulatory agencies; hence setting up of an appellate body for each regulatory agency can lead to forum shopping in similar cases and possibility of divergent decisions.
The meeting also felt that the Competition Commission of India (CCI) should consist of a Chairperson and not more than six members as proposed in the Amendment Bill. However, there should be a provision for appointment of part time members, who could be appointed due to their expertise on a case to case basis. The members felt that since this practice was being followed in many countries and also by Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI), it would enable expeditious disposal of cases in India as well.
Stressing on the responsibilities of the members of CCI, Sharad Joshi, said that every Bill creates an authority but the final Act does not lay down proper guidelines for carrying out the work. This should not be repeated in the case of the Competition Amendment Bill especially since part time professionals are not currently envisaged. The work outline should be clearly defined and allocated for speedier results.
There was a consensus on the issue of reducing the age limit of Chairperson and other members to less than 65 years. ?It has been observed that most of the Authorities so created become parking slots for retired bureaucrats. This should not happen in CCI. Hence, every effort should be made to restrict the age limit to less than 65?, said Jayaben Thakkar, the BJP MP.
It was felt that there was a need to overhaul the entire system of regulation. The purpose of any Act is to protect the interest of the public from economic monopoly and this must always be kept in mind while formulating any law.
On the need to improve the supervisory role of Parliament, the Forum was of the view that a Parliamentary Standing Committee on Competition and Regulation should be constituted. The Committee should call all the regulatory authorities and CCI for a hearing and submit its Report to the Parliament.
Among others, Suresh Prabhu, Dinesh Trivedi, N N Krishandas and representatives from consumer and civil society organisations (CSOs) were present in the meeting.