New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Thursday held that the Competition Commission of India has authority to direct investigation pertaining to fair trade practices and its directions cannot be challenged before the Competition Appellate Tribunal (COMPAT).
However, the apex court said that such powers have to be exercised sparingly and put some conditions saying that the investigations have to be completed in a time-bound manner within 60 days.
Further, it said that while directing investigations, the competition watchdog CCI has to record reasons.
The CCI had challenged the order of the COMPAT stopping a director general from investigating into allegations levelled by Jindal Steel & Power Ltd over an exclusive agreement between SAIL and Indian Railways on purchase of rail.
The judgement was pronounced by the bench comprising Chief Justice SH Kapadia and Justices KS Radhakrishnan and Swatanter Kumar.
The bench partly allowed the appeal of CCI.
CCI had approached Supreme Court in July contending that COMPAT cannot stay the investigations directed by it against any firm or company.
The anti-trust regulator had further submitted that there was no need to give hearing to a company against whom preliminary enquiry had been ordered.
However, COMPAT had said prima facie, it was necessary to check if there was any violation of natural justice through the initiation of such an inquiry.