Financial Daily from THE HINDU group of publications
Friday, Sep 24, 2004
Industry & Economy
Selection body for Competition panel to be reconstituted
New Delhi , Sept. 23
THE prevailing deadlock on the setting up of the Competition Commission of India (CCI) may end soon. The Group of Ministers (GoM) headed by the Union Finance Minister, Mr P. Chidambaram, which met here on Wednesday, is understood to have decided to reconstitute the selection committee for appointment of members and the chairman of the Commission.
According to Finance Ministry sources, the judiciary is likely to be given an upper hand in the selection committee by way of having more representation from the judiciary. This, the sources said, could eliminate the current stand-off between the Centre and the judiciary on the implementation of the Competition Act.
It may be recalled that last month the Union Cabinet had asked the GoM to study the proposed amendments to the Competition Act. The amendments were proposed in the wake of a petition challenging the appointment of a bureaucrat to head the Commission. The Government had appointed the Commerce Secretary, Mr Dipak Chatterjee, as the Chairman and former Secretary of Department of Company Affairs (DCA) Mr Vinod Dhall, as Member (Administration) of the Commission.
The GoM, however, is understood to have decided against reserving the CCI Chairman's job for a judge.
The Ministry of Company Affairs had also suggested amendments to the Competition Act. This included Section 39 of the Act, which stipulates that any order passed by the Commission would have the same weight as a High Court decree. Further, if the Commission is not able to execute the order, then it can direct the court to do so.
This earned the ire of the Supreme Court, which took strong exception as it felt that a body headed by a bureaucrat cannot instruct a Court.
Further, the provision dealing with powers to punish non-compliance of the Commission's orders is also being amended. Currently, the Act provides the Commission with such powers.
The Government has also proposed to set up an appellate tribunal for competition to be headed by a Supreme Court or a High Court judge, and will have the authority to decide on appeals regarding violation of the provisions of the Competition Act, 2002. The Supreme Court will hear appeals against the tribunal's orders.
The Competition Commission, which is supposed to replace the Monopolies and Restrictive Trade Practices Commission (MRTPC), would be responsible for preventing any kind of practices that endanger the competitiveness of any industry.
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