On 1 May 2018 the Competition Commission of India (CCI) issued its third-ever leniency decision in Nagrik Chetna Manch v Fortified Security Solutions (Case 50/2015), in which it granted a penalty reduction to four of the six leniency applicants. The allegations in the case concerned bid rigging in five tenders floated by the Pune Municipal Corporation in 2014 for the establishment of solid waste processing plants. The CCI found that all six of the opposing parties had participated in bid rigging or collusive bidding in contravention of the Competition Act.

All of the opposing parties sought a reduced penalty under the Leniency Regulations, but only four were successful:

  • Mahalaxmi, the first applicant, received a 50% penalty reduction.
  • The second applicant received a 40% penalty reduction.
  • Lahs Green (OP-4), the third applicant, received a 50% reduction.
  • Ecoman, the fourth applicant, received a 25% penalty reduction.

Notably, the CCI marked Lahs Green (OP-4) third in the order of priority, even though it had been the first to approach the commission under the Leniency Regulations in relation to the cartel in Tenders 34, 35 and 44 of 2015. As OP-4 was found not to have been involved in cartelisation in Tenders 62 and 63 of 2014, the CCI granted it first priority status with respect to Tenders 34, 35 and 44 of 2015. Further, OP-4 had approached the CCI at a later stage in the investigation, when the director general had already gathered evidence of collusion among the opposing parties. Based on OP-4's cooperation, the stage at which it had approached the CCI and the contribution that it had made to establishing the cartel's existence, the CCI granted it a 50% penalty reduction.

Ecoman was granted a 25% penalty reduction for its cooperation during the investigation. As regards Raghunath and Fortified (the fifth and sixth leniency applicants, respectively), the CCI held that their disclosures had not contributed to the investigation. As such, they were not granted a penalty reduction.

For further information on this topic please contact MM Sharma at Vaish Associates by telephone (+91 11 4249 2525) or email ([email protected]). The Vaish Associates website can be accessed at www.vaishlaw.com.