SC verdict on dispute between CCI, COMPAT on Fri

The Supreme Court would tomorrow give its verdict on the dispute between anti-trust regulator CCI and Competition Appellate Tribunal (COMPAT) on whether the latter can interfere in the investigations started by the former.

Updated: Sep 08, 2010, 22:41 PM IST

New Delhi: The Supreme Court would tomorrow
give its verdict on the dispute between anti-trust regulator
Competition Commission of India (CCI) and Competition Appellate
Tribunal (COMPAT) on whether the latter can interfere in the
investigations started by the former.

A three judge bench, comprising Chief Justice S H Kapadia
and Justices K S Radhakrishnan and Swatanter Kumar, would give
its verdict and may lay guidelines regarding the functions of
CCI and COMPAT.

The case pertains to COMPAT halting an investigation
launched by the CCI into allegations levelled by Jindal Steel
and Power (JSPL) over an exclusive agreement between SAIL and
Indian Railways on purchase of rail.

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.

It may be recalled that SAIL, the country`s largest steel
producer, and Indian Railways had inked an exclusive agreement
over purchase of rail. However, Jindal Steel had complained
against this before the CCI -- terming it unfair. The anti-
trust regulator had consequently referred the case to its
Director General (Investigations) for inquiry in December
2009.

Following this, SAIL had approached COMPAT. On February
15, the tribunal stopped the DG from probing the matter --
terming it as obstruction to natural justice because the steel
producer was not given an opportunity to be heard. COMPAT had
not allowed CCI to be a party before it in this case.

PTI