SC refuses to interfere with COMPAT order against cement firms
New Delhi: The Supreme Court Wednesday declined to interfere with the order of the competition tribunal directing 10 cement firms to deposit 10 percent of the penalty of Rs 6,300 crore imposed on them for allegedly indulging in cartelisation.
However, the apex court slightly modified the order of the Competition Appellate Tribunal (COMPAT) by extending the deadline of June 16 to June 24 for depositing the amount with the Tribunal.
It also added that the 10 percent amount deposited by each company shall be kept in a short-term fixed deposit, preferably of six months, with a nationalised bank till the outcome of the appeal pending before the tribunal.
"At this stage, it would be appropriate to take equitable view of the matter and 10 percent of the penalty amount of Rs 6,300 crore has to be paid and the same should not be interfered by this court," a bench comprising justices Gyan Sudha Misra and S J Mukhopadhaya said.
Earlier, various cement firms had moved the COMPAT against the order of Competition Commission of India (CCI) which had imposed penalty of Rs 6,300 crore on 10 firms, saying they had indulged in cartelisation by not utilising the available capacity with an aim to raise the prices in times of higher demand.
The cement firms had challenged the order of the CCI before the COMPAT which asked them to deposit 10 percent of fine, that is Rs 630 crore, in a month and posted the matter for hearing in August. The COMPAT, however, had stayed the CCI's penalty order.
Against the order of the COMPAT, the cement firms moved the apex court.
Earlier, the CCI had found cement manufacturers violating provisions of the Competition Act which deals with anti- competitive agreements including cartels.
Cement manufacturers on whom the penalty was imposed were ACC, Ambuja Cements Limited, Ultratech Cements, Grasim Cements now merged with Ultratech Cements, JK Cements, India Cements, Madras Cements, Century Cements, Binani Cements, Lafarge India and Jaypee Cements.
The CCI had imposed the penalty on a complaint of Builders Association of India. The cement companies were fined 50 percent of their average profit for fiscal years 2010 and 2011, the period for which they were investigated.