By a July 4 2016 order, the Competition Appellate Tribunal (COMPAT) upheld an order passed by the Competition Commission of India (CCI) which refused to entertain an appeal challenging the director general's order to treat certain documents submitted by appellant TPM Consultants Pvt Ltd as confidential until the completion of the CCI proceedings (rather than permanently) under Regulation 35(8) of the CCI General Regulations 2009.(1)

During a CCI investigation into allegations of cartelisation with regard to the price of domestic tyre manufacturing companies, the director general sent a notice to the appellant under Section 41 of the Competition Act, requiring the company to provide certain information and documents. The appellant submitted the documents and requested that they be treated as confidential under Regulation 35. The director general reviewed the request under Regulations 35(3) and 35(9) and granted the documents confidentiality until the completion of the proceedings before the CCI. The appellant subsequently requested that the documents be granted permanent status as confidential. The CCI ruled that the director general's observations were just and reasonable and thus refused the appellant's appeal.

The appellant appealed to COMPAT, challenging the CCI's order. COMPAT observed that it had jurisdiction to hear and decided appeals only against orders passed by the CCI under Section 53A(1)(a) of the Competition Act and that Regulations 35(8) or 35(10) are not mentioned therein. In reply, the appellant submitted that the impugned order should be treated as one made under Section 26 of the Competition Act. Considering the facts of the case and the laws laid down by the Supreme Court, COMPAT held that the appeal was not maintainable under Section 53A. COMPAT further ordered that the documents' confidentiality status be maintained only until completion of the CCI proceedings.

For further information on this topic please contact MM Sharma at Vaish Associates by telephone (+91 11 4929 2525) or email (mmsharma@vaishlaw.com). The Vaish Associates website can be accessed at www.vaishlaw.com.

Endnotes

(1) Order dated July 4 2016. For the full text, see COMPAT's website at www.compat.nic.in.

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