CCI is examining 17 laws for compliance, says chairman Ashok Kumar Gupta

The commission had conducted a similar study on the e-commerce sector.
The Competition Commission of India (CCI) is examining 17 pieces of legislation across different sectors to check if they are compliant with competition laws, Ashok Kumar Gupta, chairman of the CCI, said on Friday.

“There are a number of rules that need to become compliant with competition regulations. Maybe some of them already are... We will examine it in detail,” Gupta said. The anti-trust watchdog will identify inadvertent policy-induced restrictions on competition, if any.

Gupta was speaking on the sidelines of a national conference on the economics of competition law. Stressing the need for antitrust regulations to match the economic realities of the time, Gupta said, “In digital markets, enforcement priorities and remedies should generate optimal deterrence of anticompetitive conduct while preserving the incentives for innovation.”

He also said the CCI is finalising its report on the telecom sector and competition practices within it. The commission had conducted a similar study on the e-commerce sector. Soon after the study was made public, the CCI had ordered an investigation into Flipkart and Amazon for offering deep discount and their preferred seller model.

While the e-commerce companies managed to get an interim stay on the probe, the CCI is likely to submit an affidavit in the Delhi High Court to explain its stance soon, Gupta said.

The chairman also highlighted the green channel system for deemed approval of combination schemes with nearly 30 per cent of the cases notified to the CCI this year processed under the automatic system. “This channel will promote a speedy and transparent process for approval of combinations as also to create a culture of self-compliance.”

Speaking on the occasion, Bibek Debroy, chairman of Prime Minister's Economic Advisory Council, said the issues of competition extended beyond the ambit of competition law and that the extent of competition is predicated on the institutional structure and system of laws that undergird markets. “There are elements in several statutes in India that inhibit competition.”

He said the government or the CCI need to step in when the requisite action is not taken by industry. He also said that while entry has been eased in manufacturing pursuant to economic liberalisation, barriers still exist in services and agriculture.

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