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26 April 2016

CCI to observe principles of natural justice while disagreeing with DG report

Observing that Competition Commission of India (CCI) had, at no stage of the proceedings, after the receipt of investigation report, given any notice to the appellants indicating/incorporating the reasons for its disagreement with the findings/conclusions recorded by the Jt. DG that the appellants had not formed any cartel or acted in contravention of Section 3(1) and Section 3(3)(a) of the Act, the COMPAT has by its order dated 18-4-2016, set aside the Order of the CCI. Violation of principles of natural justice was noticed by the Tribunal in this regard while it observed that no opportunity was given to the appellant to show that the reasons recorded by the Commission for its disagreement with the findings and conclusion recorded by the Jt. DG were untenable and also to show that they (appellant) had not formed any cartel.

It was held that the Commission was duty bound to comply with the mandate of Section 36(1) of the Competition Act and that by not doing so, the appellants was deprived of a valuable opportunity to effectively defend themselves against the proposed action of imposition of penalty. The CCI in its impugned order has disagreed with the findings of the DG and held that the appellants had acted in a concerted manner in fixing and revising the FSC rates and thereby contravened the provisions of Section 3(1) and Section 3(3)(a) of the Competition Act.