Tribual begins final hearing on DLF plea against CCI

Tribual begins final hearing on DLF plea against CCI New Delhi: The Competition Appellate Tribunal has begun its final hearing on a plea by DLF Ltd against a fine of Rs 630 crore imposed on the realty company by the fair trade regulator CCI for alleged abuse of dominant market position.

The lawyers appearing on behalf of DLF completed their arguments last week in the matter, while the owners' associations of the company's two housing projects -- DLF Park Palace and The Belaire -- would start presenting their case before the Tribunal from this Wednesday.

The case has been pending for quite some time, as the CCI order was passed on August 12 last year, wherein it had imposed a penalty of Rs 630 crore on DLF after finding the realty major guilty of abuse of the dominant market position.

The order was passed after probe into complaints filed by the flat buyer associations of two separate DLF projects in Gurgaon, alleging delays in the project and increase in the number of floors than planned earlier, among other things.

After DLF approached COMPAT against the CCI order, the Tribual had referred the case back to the fair trade regulator and asked it to provide certain clarifications.

The COMPAT is also hearing another matter involving DLF, where the company has been accused of abusing its dominant position in a project at Jasola in national capital.

On November 29, two DLF subsidiaries -- DLF Commercial Developers and DLF Services - had sought some time to file their reply. Admitting it, the tribunal has granted four weeks time and the matter has been listed for January 24, 2013 for further hearing.

In this matter, Owners and Occupants Welfare Association of DLF Towers at Jasola had approached COMPAT against a CCI order dated July 4, wherein it had closed the complaint alleging abuse of dominant position by DLF in the relevant market of high-end commercial space in south-west Delhi.

COMPAT issued notices to the DLF group firms in October, asking them to file their replies on the plea of the Owners and Occupants Welfare Association of DLF Towers at Jasola.

Meanwhile, the CCI recently passed another order wherein it has rejected a complaint against DLF for alleged abuse of market dominance in a Chennai housing project.

Investment banking and brokerage firm Edelweiss said in a research note on DLF that the CCI judgement in Chennai case was a positive development for the realty firm with regard to its Gurgaon cases as well.

"This judgement (in Chennai case) is a directional positive, as it points towards potentially favourable judgement in the anti-trust case for Park Place and Belaire, DLF's luxury residential projects in Gurgaon," Edelweiss said.

PTI