Rajya Sabha passes Competition Bill


New Delhi: The Rajya Sabha on Monday approved the Competition Amendment Bill, 2023, which seeks to reform the two-decade-old anti-trust law to make it in sync with the shifts in the economy.

Having been cleared in both Houses of Parliament, the Bill is set to become law once it gets Presidential assent. Lok Sabha passed the Bill last week. A major change introduced by the Bill is to expedite the Competition Commission of India’s (CCI) process of approving mergers and acquisitions. The Bill seeks to reduce the overall time limit for CCI to assess a deal from the existing 210 days to 150 days from the date of parties notifying the deal to the CCI. Also, CCI has to frame a first impression of transactions within 30 days of receiving such notice, failing which the deal will be deemed approved.

The Bill also expands the scope of the regulatory framework of competition regulation. A party which participates or intends to participate in an anti-competitive agreement will also be covered along with parties to such an agreement.

Besides, a limitation period of three years for filing information before CCI is introduced to ensure that only genuine cases that adversely affect competition in the market are considered by the Commission.

CCI is now working on the rules and regulations needed to give effect to the new provisions added to the law, especially the scheme for commitment and settlement meant to reduce litigation by way of negotiated settlements. This scheme is available to cases of anti-competitive agreements and abuse of dominance but not to cartels. CCI will issue regulations only after public consultation.

Also, the new provisions expand the scope of CCI’s merger regulation by bringing deals worth more than 2,000 crore requiring CCI clearance.

A highlight of the Bill is a change in the penalty provision. The Bill seeks to define ‘turnover’ for the purpose of penalty as global turnover derived from all the products and services by a person or an enterprise.

The idea is to levy a penalty as a percentage of the global turnover of the offending company, moving away from the current practice of levying a part of the local or relevant market turnover as a penalty. The Bill introduces more clarity to the provisions relating to merger regulation that was proposed in the original Bill introduced in Parliament last year.

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