COMPAT cannot stay probe ordered by CCI

COMPAT cannot stay probe ordered by CCI

The Supreme Court ruling will set at rest the infighting between the CCI and appellate tribunal over stoppage of probes at the initial stage.

A bench comprising Chief Justice S H Kapdia and Justices K S Radhakrishnan and Swatanter Kumar said a CCI direction to probe anti-competitive practices by its arm, the Director General of Investigations, cannot be stayed by COMPAT.

It further said that appeals for a stay of investigations can not be entertained by COMPAT.
The bench said that under the Competition Act, the fair trade regulator can direct the DG Investigation to conduct probes.

However, the apex court also said the powers to direct the Director General to probe complaints should be exercised sparingly and completed in a time-bound manner within 60 days.

It also said competition watchdog CCI should record the reasons for ordering a probe. The apex court’s direction came over an appeal filed by the CCI challenging the orders of COMPAT, which had stayed its order to the DG Investigation to probe the exclusive agreement between SAIL and Indian Railways on the purchase of rails. The CCI had said the tribunal’s order was passed without even making it a party.

The CCI, which had approached the apex court in July this year, contended that COMPAT cannot stay the investigations directed by it against any firm or company.

The anti-trust regulator had further submitted that there was no need to give a hearing to a company against whom a preliminary enquiry had been ordered.

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