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SC reserves judgment on COMPAT jurisdiction case

The Supreme Court today reserved its judgment over a petition of the CCI alleging that its appellate body, Competition Appellate Tribunal (COMPAT), was overstepping its power by staying an investigation directed by it.



New Delhi: The Supreme Court today reserved
its judgment over a petition of the Competition Commission
of India (CCI) alleging that its appellate body, Competition
Appellate Tribunal (COMPAT), was overstepping its power by
staying an investigation directed by it.

After hearing the arguments for two consecutive days, a
bench comprising Chief Justice S H Kapadia and Justices K S
Radhakrishnan and Swatanter Kumar reserved its orders.

The case pertains to COMPAT staying a CCI probe initiated
into an exclusive supply agreement for rail tracks inked
between the Railways and SAIL. The probe was ordered after
private steel producer Jindal Steel and Power Limited alleged
that it was not given a chance for competitive bidding.

CCI had approached the apex court on July 8, requesting
it to clarify if a company, against which it has initiated a
probe, could appeal to COMPAT and get the investigation
process stayed at a preliminary stage.

COMPAT held that CCI had not issued a notice to SAIL,
depriving it of a chance to present its case before the probe
was initiated. This, it said, was in "violation of natural
justice".

During the proceedings, senior advocate Harish Salve,
appearing for Jindal Steel and Power Ltd, submitted before the
apex court that while CCI should inform the companies in some
cases, it must not in others.

But senior advocate Rohinton F Nariman, appearing for
SAIL, submitted that CCI should inform the company against
which it is going to start a probe as "the reputation of the
firm is affected".

Solicitor General Gopal Subramanium, appearing on behalf
of CCI, defended the fair-trade regulator`s right to initiate
probes against companies, based on complaints from
competitors.

PTI

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