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The Competition (Amendment) Bill, 2022: Key Changes

The Competition (Amendment) Bill, 2022: Key Changes:

The Competition (Amendment) Bill, 2022 has been introduced that aims to improve regulatory set-up by increasing the CCI’s accountability, giving it flexibility and enforcement efficiency.

Key Changes mentioned in the bill:

  • A board with part-time members to supervise CCI activities.
  • This would bring its regulatory architecture at par with that of financial regulators.
  • CCI to mandatorily issue penalty guidelines and give reasons in case of any divergence.
  • It will give much-needed certainty in regulatory environment
  • CCI could engage in structured negotiations with parties and arrive at mutually-workable solutions without having to go through lengthy formal proceedings.
  • This will bring powers of CCI on par with Sebi, which has been passing settlement orders for over a decade.
  • Previously CCI was only empowered to take action for abuse of dominance or anti-competitive agreements in the form of final orders in proceedings before it.
  • CCI can make appeals to the National Company Law Appellate Tribunal conditional on a pre-deposit of up to 25% of the penalty imposed by the CCI.
  • Shortening of the merger review period from 210 to 150 days
  • Introduction of a green channel for merger applications: Certain categories of mergers that had to wait for CCI approval would be allowed to attain full consummation without any standstill obligation under the new green-channel process.
  • Previously, only those agreements are allowed if agreements made between businesses at the same level of production (such as competitors that form a cartel) or businesses that are in a directly upstream or downstream market (such as agreements between a manufacturer and distributor).
  • If the parties do not fall in either of these brackets, anti-competitive agreements between them can go unchecked.
  • But the bill also recognizes other forms of cartels such as hub-and-spoke cartels, it also has a catch-all provision to enable the CCI to deal with anti-competitive pacts irrespective of the structural relationships between parties.