24 January 2011

CCI versus regulators

Mint carried a piece on regulators defending their turf against India's anti-trust regulator "Competition watchdog faces fresh challenge to jurisdiction" essentially claiming that sectoral regulators should decide such things. The Petroleum Board seems to have an argument in this - which is that it is empowered to decide on competition issues in its sector by the Petroleum and Natural Gas Regulatory Board Act, 2006.

I think the CCI should be allowed to have a free rein in matters regarding anti-competitive behaviour and the flavour should be cooperation between regulators rather than turf fights. Even where there is a specific mandate given to act against anti-competitive behaviour to other regulators, I would prefer the CCI to have powers as it would be a lot more objective in its assessment rather than a sectoral regulator. Besides the remit of CCI is wider, deeper and its understanding of anti-trust concepts far more clear than a sectoral regulator. Arguments will of course be made on the lines of 'our industry is different' or that 'the sectoral regulator understands the industry better' and therefore CCI's jurisdiction should be barred. However, Indian courts should allow CCI to be the primary regulator whose jurisdiction should not be excluded.

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