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CCI probes cartels in pharma, telecom

business Updated: Sep 03, 2012 23:04 IST
HT Correspondent

Several sectors such as pharmaceuticals, telecom, real estate and civil aviation have come under the scanner of the Competition Commission of India (CCI) to rule out any possibilities of cartelisation.

"Some such sectors recently have been taken up by the Commission in respect to alleged cartelisation related to real estate, pharmaceuticals, civil aviation, telecom, tyre manufacturing, cement, milk distribution, onion and asbestos," minister of state for corporate affairs RPN Singh said in Parliament on Monday.

The anti-trust body collects information on issues related to cartelisation and if prima facie case is found, it takes up the issue for further investigation.

While CCI was looking into as many as 39 cases, 26 other cases were being examined by the CCI's director general as on June 30, 2012.

Singh said though majority of them were related to the infrastructure sector, there were also several related to banking and financial services, film, entertainment and television, information technology among others.

Ashok Chawla, CCI chairperson, could not be contacted for comments.

Chawla, however, has already indicated that the commission would promote healthy market environment and competition and no entity even if it is government-owned would be spared if found indulging in anti-competitive practices.

Singh, meanwhile, added that while CCI is mandated to look into areas related to possible cartelisation by enterprises, which could lead to anti-competitive activities and have adverse impacts on competition and prices.

However data on price rise is not maintained by the the anti-trust body, he said.

In June, the anti-competition regulator had slapped a hefty penalty of about Rs 6,200 crore on 11 leading cement companies including ACC, Ambuja Cements, UltraTech and Jaypee Cements for price cartelisation.

Others found guilty were Grasim Cements now merged with Ultratech Cements, Lafarge India, JK Cement, India Cements, Madras Cements, Century Cements and Binani Cements.

CCI can fine firms guilty of cartelisation

The Companies Act does not provide provisions to cancel the licences of firms found guilty of profiteering, while the CCI has the right to impose penalties on them, Parliament was informed.

Replying to a query, minister of state for corporate affairs RPN Singh said on Monday that there are no provisions in the Competition Act 2002 for such cancellations.

However, the commission can impose penalties on such companies, Singh said.

"Companies found guilty of contravention of provisions... shall be dealt with the commission as per the provisions of Section 27 of the Act, which inter-alia provide for imposing of penalties on such companies," Singh said. (PTI)