Difference between investigations and cases

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Delhi High Court recently held that all investigations that were being carried out by the Monopolies and Restrictive Trade Practices (MRTP) Commission and were incomplete when the Competition (Amendment) Act, 2009 (CAA), came into effect in October 2009, would stand transferred to the Competition Commission of India (CCI).

If however, the investigation had crystallized into a “case” before the MRTP Commission was dissolved, it would have been transferred to the Competitions Appellate Tribunal (CAT).

Dismissing a challenge to the jurisdiction of the CCI in Interglobe Aviation Limited and Federation of Indian Airlines v The Secretary, Competition Commission of India and Ors, the court observed that the CCI’s organizational structure is significantly different to that of the now defunct MRTP Commission. As such, the CCI performs “a partly inquisitorial function and a partly quasi-adjudicatory function”.

In February 2009, the MRTP Commission had begun investigating alleged unfair trade practices by several airline operators, which included the petitioners.

In September 2009, while the investigation was still underway, the MRTP Act was repealed and soon after the CAA came into effect.

Subsequently in March the “restrictive trade practices enquiry” was transferred to the CCI by the Director General, Investigation & Registration (DG (I&R)), which was the body within the MRTP Commission that had been conducting the investigation.

Aggrieved by this decision, the petitioners moved Delhi High Court contending that according to the Competition Act, 2002, the case should be dealt with by the CAT and not the CCI.

Rejecting this argument the court held that as the DG (I&R) had neither completed its investigations nor submitted a report to the MRTP Commission when the CAA came into effect, the matter had not become a “case”.

After receiving the DG (I&R)’s report, the commission might well have decided there was no “case”.

The update of court judgments is compiled by Bhasin & Co, Advocates, a corporate law firm based in New Delhi. The authors can be contacted at [email protected] Readers should not act on the basis of this information without seeking professional legal advice.