Ruling in favour of the Competition Commission of India (CCI), the Supreme Court has held the appellate tribunal cannot interfere with the decision of CCI to probe anti-competitive practices of corporate at preliminary stage.
The directions given by the apex court to Competition Appellate Tribunal (COMPAT) not to entertain appeals at the initial level will help in expeditious completion of the probe by the CCI.
"The Supreme Court ruling and the directions given by it are welcome and will ensure speedier resolution of the commercially sensitive disputes by the CCI," said Diljeet Titus, senior partner of law firm Titus and Co.
The CCI officials, who did not wish to be identified, said the Supreme Court order would pave the way for smooth functioning of the Commission. CCI chairman Dhanendra Kumar, however, could not be contacted for comments.
Commenting on the SC order, Pallavi Shroff of Amarchand Mangaldas and Shroff said that it was a "positive" order.
"Had it not been, it would have crippled the functions of CCI... The time is changing and laws should also change."
As per the Supreme Court order, "no appeal will lie (with the COMPAT) from any decision, order or direction of the Commission which is not made specifically under Section 53A(1)(a) of the (Competition) Act."
The CCI moved the apex court after COMPAT stayed the probe ordered by it in a case pertaining to alleged anti-competitive practices of the Steel Authority of India (SAIL). "...the appeal preferred by SAIL ought to have been dismissed by the tribunal as not maintainable", Supreme Court held.
The judgement will have a bearing on the DLF case in which the company had moved the Compat against the CCI's probe order.
"The role of CCI is well defined under the Act and there is no overlapping with Compat. If the tribunal stops any investigation at the threshold limit than what is purpose of having such regulatory commission. If CCI is not allowed to investigate than the basic purpose will be frustrated", opined Lalit Bhasin of law firm Bhasin and Co.