Thursday, July 13, 2017
Competition Commission vs Small Medium Enterprises
The Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) have been globally recognized as a priority sector for growth and development and India is not an exception to this generality. In India, the Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) contribute over 45 percent of the country s industrial production and around 40 percent of total exports. The SMEs increase competition, contribute comprehensively by the GDP ensure varied supply of goods and services and give customers wider and customized choice. Thus MSMEs unhesitatingly play a vital role and in fact they are the backbone of the Indian economy and prudence suggests that the backbone not only be protected but strengthened too on a perennial basis.
What SMEs needs to know is that the law is applicable to them as well. The focus of law is not on “size of the enterprise” which could be in terms of assets /turnover or investment in plant and machinery etc. but on the effects of business practices on competition in the relevant market in India. However, it is unlikely that SMEs would unwittingly fall foul of the law. On individual basis, since SMEs lack market power, their actions are not likely to have appreciable adverse effects on competition in India. Moreover, the exclusions and exemptions from the applicability of law are likely to dilute the effectiveness of competition law which is increasingly believed to be benign for consumers, enterprises as well as economies.
A SMEs or an Association can file information in the prescribed form with the CCI and request for enquiry against any delinquent enterprises in case the latter is allegedly indulging in anti-competitive practices/ agreement or abuse the dominant position. SMEs can also file objection with the CCI in response to public notice or otherwise against any proposed acquisition, merger or amalgamation as sometimes a survival of SME is threatened. Thus, there is an obligation on the CCI to listen to the aggrieved SMEs.
The Amendment made to the Act in 2007, casts an obligation upon the Central Government to establish Competition Appellate Tribunal (COMPAT), which shall be a three member quasi –judicial body to
•Hear and dispose of appeals against any direction issued or decision made or the Order passed by the Commission;
•Adjudicate on any claim for compensation that may arise from the findings of the Commission or the Orders of the Appellate Tribunal in an appeal against any finding of the Commission or under section 42A or sub-section (2) of section 53Q of this Act, and pass Orders for the recovery of compensation under section 53N of the Act.
The Competition Appellate Tribunal will be guided by principle of natural justice and it can regulate its own procedure. COMPAT can dismiss a petition for default or decide it ex parte and such order of dismissal or ex parte order can be set aside. The proceedings before COMPAT are deemed to be judicial proceedings. If Appellate Tribunal cannot execute its order, it will be sent to Court within whose local jurisdiction the registered office of the company or place of residence of the person is situated. Order of the C OMPAT will be executed as a degree of court. COMPAT can directly send the order to a civil court for execution. The order will be executed by that Court as if it is a decree of that Court.
On coming to a prima facie opinion that the combination is likely to cause or has caused appreciable adverse effect on competition within the relevant market, the commission shall issue a show cause notice to parties to the combination calling upon them to show within 30 days of receipt as to why investigation of such combination should not be conducted. After the receipt of the response from the parties, the commission may call for a report from the DG within the time as may be specified.
The commission is empowered to pass the following orders after the due process:
a) Approve the combination where no appreciable adverse effect on competition in the relevant market in India;
b) Direct that combination shall not take effect where the Commission is opinion that there is or is likely to have appreciable adverse effect on competition;
c) Propose modification in the combination where the commission is of the appreciable adverse effect cause or likely to be caused by the combination can be eliminated by the modification.
Most competition laws either exempt specific sectors and/ or types of economic activity, and /or have provision s for the granting of such exemptions in given situations. It is worth observing that there generally tend to be fewer exemptions in countries which have recently adopted competition laws (mainly developing and transition market economies) as compared with more industrialized nations. In India the Competition Commission of India ,While passing orders in respect of cartels , the Commission is vested with the discretion to impose a proportionate /lesser penalty than leviable under the Act upon a producer, seller, distributor, trader or service providers, provided the following conditions are met;
1. Such producer, seller, distributor, trader or service provider included in the cartel had made full and true disclosure in respect of the alleged violations and such disclosure is vital.
2. Such disclosure has been made before receipt of DG s report on investigation order under section 26 of the Act
3. The party making disclosure s continues to co-operate with the Commission till the completion of proceedings before the commission.
4. The party making disclosure s has;
a) Complied with the condition of which the lesser penalty was imposed and
b) Not given false evidence.
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