In an unexpected move, Jayant Sinha, Member of Parliament from the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party, is expected to introduce a Competition (Amendment) Bill, 2023, introducing changes to the 2022 Bill which is pending Parliament approval.
The list of private members’ business on the Lok Sabha’s website mentions this Bill to be introduced on March 17.
Sinha was head of the parliamentary panel on the proposed Competition Amendment Bill. The committee had made a slew of suggestions for the overhaul of the Bill, most of which were rejected by the government.
While it is not unusual for a private member Bill to be introduced by those belonging to the ruling party, a Bill moved by the head of the standing committee to push its recommendations is not ordinarily done.
The changes proposed by the Sinha-led committee ranged from specifying the method of calculating the deal value of transactions and allowing cartels to access settlement mechanisms to introducing effect-based analysis for the Competition Commission of India (CCI) and director general before ascertaining anti-competitive behaviour.
The report said that the Bill needs to bring more predictability and certainty.
Cartel, the committee suggested, should also be included in the scope of settlement, “as a pragmatic recourse to the whole process”. It said that any matter, cartel or otherwise, that reaches the settlement stage would have been an anti-competitive one.
The government had not accepted this suggestion. The Ministry of Corporate Affairs clarified in its presentation to the committee that it will issue detailed regulations for the settlement and commitment mechanisms to reduce arbitrariness and ensure accountability. The idea behind the amendment proposed is a faster resolution of competition cases and reduced litigation.
The standing committee has also sought the removal of the clause regarding the commitment mechanism that allows objections or suggestions to be submitted by “any other third party” amid stakeholders’ concern that it may compromise secrecy. The committee has said, “such a mandate must be discretionary and not mandatory”.
The panel had also said that the present law does not require the CCI or director general to do an effect-based analysis — analysing actual effects of the conduct while examining the abuse of dominance cases.
“Under this test, the regulator looks at different factors like impact on consumers, innovation, and competition before adjudicating a conduct as violative of the competition law,” the standing committee said.
This recommendation, too, was not accepted by the government.
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