Top 20 Landmark Judgements of Competition Law
- UPSE v. National Stock Exchange Limited
Here, various fee waivers and the low level of deposit requirements only with respect to the CD segment of NSE were considered completely at a variance with its conduct in other segments and were aimed at eliminating competition and discouraging potential entrants. The issue before the court was if it violates the relevant act.
Competition Commission of India relying on the number of factors provided that under the Competition Act, 2002 has attempted to determine if activities of NSE amounts to indulgence in abusing of its dominant position and violation of the provisions of the Act.
- Shamsher Kataria v. Honda Siel Cars Ltd. & Ors
Appellant had filed the information against Volkswagen India, Honda India and Fiat India for violation of Section 3(4) and Section 4 of the Competition Act, 2002 as Original Equipment Manufacturers (hereinafter referred to as „OEMs‟) entered into agreements with Original Equipment Suppliers (hereinafter referred to as „OESs‟) and authorized dealers, which imposed unfair prices on the sale of auto spare parts and restricted the free availability of genuine auto spare parts in the market. Was there any violations?
CCI in this case has rendered a landmark ruling on automobile ancillary products and services in the auto industry.
- Maharashtra State Power Generation Company Ltd. v. M/s. Mahanadi Coalfields Ltd. & Anr.
The information in this case was filed under section 19(1)(a) of the Act by two state owned power generation companies in Maharashtra and Gujarat against CIL and its subsidiaries alleging contravention of the section 4 of the Act. They alleged that OP were dominant in the relevant market and were abusing this dominance primarily through the terms and conditions imposed in the Fuel Supply Agreements.
The court in this case provided the constitutional mandate for state monopoly was raised by Opposite Parties placing reliance on Supreme Court ruling in Ashoka Smokeless Coal (P) Ltd. v. Union of India
- M/s. Madhya Pradesh Power Generating Company Limited v. M/s. South Eastern Coalfields Ltd. & Anr.
Here, the SECL being the monopoly supplier was neither willing to negotiate the terms of coal supply agreement nor ensuring the supply obligations and therefore the terms and conditions of SECL were not fair and according to the object for which the informant was acquiring coal.
It was held that while CCI worked to regulatory framework and formulation of policy, CCI did not exempt the applicability of the Act to SOEs. Additionally, although cases relating to FSAs and Coal India are in appeal, it does not look like CCI will be changing its approach towards other SOEs.
- COMPAT in M/s. Excel Crop Care Limited v. Competition Commission of India & Ors.
In the case of Sandhya Organic Chemicals, for which the tablets are the sole product, COMPAT reduced the penalty to a tenth of the original sum ordered by the CCI, on account of its relatively small production capacity. The challenge was made to this as an issue.
In the present case it has been rightly held that it was important to articulate the reasons as to why a particular percentage of penalties were being imposed and secondly, what would be the relevant turnover for such imposition.
- Google Inc. v. CCI
A Complaint was filed before the CCI that Google Inc. has abused its dominant position in the internet advertising space by promoting its vertical search services like Youtube, Google News, Google Maps, etc. In other words, these services would appear predominantly during a search result on Google, irrespective of their popularity or relevance. The main issue was whether an administrative body like CCI had inherent powers to review or recall its order passed under section 26(1) in the absence of any specific provisions in the Competition Act, 2002?
The Delhi Court held that Competition Commission of India can recall or review its order subject to certain restrictions and the same should be done sparingly and not in every case where an investigation has been ordered without proper hearing.
- Automobiles Dealers Association v. Global Automobiles Limited & Anr.
Here in this conflict, interpretation of section 19(3) of the Competition Act came before the court.
The language in section 19(3) states that the CCI shall have ‘due regard to all or any’ of the aforementioned factors. However, in this case CCI held that it would be prudent to examine an action in the backdrop of all the factors mentioned in Section 19(3).
- Jet – Etihad Case
An appeal under Section 53B was made to COMPAT challenging the Jet – Etihad Orde was dismissed on the point of locus standi without examining the merits of the Jet – Etihad Order. Though Section 53A provides that ‘any person, aggrieved’ may challenge an order of CCI, COMPAT interpreted ‘any person’ to mean, a person ‘aggrieved’ by the CCI order and that it could not mean ‘any’ and ‘every’ person.
- TELCO v Registrar of RT Agreement
The appeal is under Section 55 of the Monopolies and Restrictive Trade Practices Act, 1969 (referred to as the Act) against the judgment and order of the Monopolies and Restrictive Trade Practices Commission (referred to as the Commission) dated 25 July, 1975. The principal question for consideration in this appeal is whether the agreement between the appellant referred to as Telco and its dealers allocating territories to its dealers within which only the dealers can sell bus and truck chassis referred to as the vehicles produced by the company constitutes a “restrictive trade practice.
The Supreme Court in this case held that rule of reason had to be applied in the cases of agreements constituting violations of the RTP.
- Voltas Ltd v/s Union of India
An order of adjudication under the provisions of the Central Excise Act, 1944 was passed against the petitioner resulting into raising a demand of Rs. 81,68,304.00 on account of duty, and Rs. 35 lacs on account of fine with a penalty of Rs. 35,04,000.00 . The petitioner sought for waiver of pre-deposit and stays of the recovery. On 14th February, 1997, the Tribunal passed an order under Section 35-F of the Act, directing the amount of Rs. 50 lacs be deposited within a period of three months and subject to such deposit the recovery of balance to remain stayed during the appeal. The same was challenged in the court.
The apex Court has held that in view of the general definition of RTPs under Section 2 (o), practices other than the one listed under Section 33 (1) could be examined under Rule of Reason analysis.
- Brahm Datt v. Union of India
A writ petition filed in the Supreme Court challenged the constitutional validity of the appointment of a retired bureaucrat as the head of the Commission. The Supreme Court passed its order on the said matter declining to grant relief sought by the Petitioner in view of the Government offering to amend the Competition Act.
- Sodhi Transport Co. v. State Of U.P.
In this case of conflict between the parties the interpretation of Section 3(4) of the Competition Act came before the court.
The apex court has interpreted ‘shall be presumed’ as a presumption and not evidence itself, but merely indicative on whom burden of proof lies. Further, vertical agreements relating to activities referred to under Section 3(4) of the Competition Act on the other hand have to be analyzed in accordance with the rule of reason analysis under the Competition Act.
- Shri Ashok Kumar Sharma v. Agni Devices Pvt. Ltd
Respondents claims itself to be the leading manufacturer, developer, importer and exporter of fire alarm systems, etc and has used threatening language to the appellant in regard to the use of trademarks. It this voilative of the act.
It was held that a mere restriction on the use of trademark would not be in violation of Sections 3 or 4 of the Competition Act, 2002.
- M/s. Magnus Graphics v. M/s. Nilpeter India Pvt. Ltd.
Where in a case the maintenance services and the spare parts of the said machine were provided to the Informant with a delay of 2 to 3 days, to which the Informant had not strongly objected, An analysis was carried out by the Commission in this case where based on a preliminary review of the provisions of the agreement and a preliminary examination of the effect of such clauses in terms of Section 3 of the Act, the Commission concluded a prima facie case and directed further investigation.
- M/s. Financial Software and System Private Limited v. M/s. ACI Worldwide Solutions Private Limited &Ors
Here also based on a preliminary review of the clauses of the relevant agreement and its impact in terms of Section 3 of the Act, the Commission directed the DG to investigate further.
- Mohit Manglani v. M/s Flipkart India Pvt. Ltd. & Ors
It was alleged by the Informant that these e-commerce websites have been indulging in anti-competitive practices in the nature of “exclusive agreements” with seller of goods/services. The Informant stated that owing to such practices, the consumer was left with no option in regards to terms of purchase and price of the goods and services and was bound to either purchase the product as per the terms of the website or opt not to purchase the product in totality. Whether the practice of entering into exclusive agreement for sale and purchase of goods by way of e-commerce is violating the provisions?
It was held that an exclusive arrangement between manufacturers and e-portals is not against Section 3. It is rather to help the consumer make an informed choice.
- M/s Fast Track Call Cab Private Limited v. M/s ANI Technologies Pvt. Ltd.
The CCI was of the prima facie view that predatory pricing, providing more incentives and discounts to customers and drivers compared to the revenue earned resulted in ousting the existing players out of the market and created entry barriers for the potential players against provisions of Section 4 of the Act. Moreover, the quantity of resources and the dependence of the consumer in the relevant market with no substitute are relevant factors to be taken into consideration when looking for acts in violation of Section 4.9.
- M/s Jasper lnfotech Private Limited (Snapdeal) v.M/s Kaff Appliances (India) Pvt. Ltd.
Here in this conflict, interpretation of Section 3(4)(e) of the Competition Act came before the court.
The Competition Commission of India held that display of products at prices less than that determined by the dealers/distributors and also hinders their ability to compete and is thus a violation of Section 3(4)(e) read with 3(1) of the Act.
- Steel Manufacturers Case
It was alleged by EEPC that the rise in the steel price in India is much higher in comparison to the world prices. Such sharp steel price increase was detrimental to the Indian engineering industry and the exporters of engineering goods especially those belonging to the small and medium scale sectors like critical engineering industry segments.
It may be considered an exception as its genesis lies in the MRTP Act. In such cases CCI examines whether the substantive law in these cases should be MRTP Act or the Act as a preliminary point before proceeding further.
- Faridabad Industries Association vs. M/s Adani Gas Limited
Here in this case, it was alleged in the information that the opposite party by grossly abusing its dominant position in the relevant market of supply and distribution of natural gas in Faridabad has put unconscionable terms and conditions in Gas Sales Agreement (GSA), which are unilateral and lopsided, besides being heavily tilted in favour of AGL. The opposite party (AGL), in the garb of executing GSA, has imposed its diktat upon the buyers of natural gas, who are members of FIA. The issue if natural gas was a separate and distinct market was raised.
CCI observed that the opposite party was the only licenced gas supplier in Faridabad and natural gas had distinct features and characteristics and although end-users interchangeably used fuel oils and natural gas, CCI concluded that natural gas was a separate and distinct market.