By way of an order dated August 9 2016, the Competition Appellate Tribunal (COMPAT) upheld a Competition Commission of India (CCI) order declining to order an investigation into allegations of abuse of dominance against DLF Universal Limited, among others.(1)
The complaint was filed by Ms Ravinder Kaur Sethi. She had previously applied for the allotment of a commercial space in Prime Towers, Okhla, which was being constructed by DLF Universal Limited, and paid part of the purchase price for said space. According to the appellant, between March 2013 and August 2014 she made various payments towards the total purchase price, although these payments were often delayed. The respondent issued notices and reminders about the delays and imposed penalties for the late payments. Through a letter dated May 10 2014 the respondent issued a final notice indicating the appellant's total outstanding debts and subsequently cancelled her contract, forfeiting part of the amount that she had already paid.
After the contract was cancelled, the appellant entered into an agreement with M/s Fortune Health Care Services Pvt Ltd, whereby she agreed to lease out the disputed property. After executing the lease agreement, the appellant approached the respondent for a no objection certificate in relation to her doing business in her allotted commercial space. The respondent granted her request. The appellant then sent a notice to the respondent, requesting that it transfer possession of the shop to her and asserting that she had already paid the outstanding debts, including the penalty. When the shop was not transferred, she filed a complaint with the CCI, arguing that the respondent was in a dominant position in the relevant market and had abused its position when it cancelled her agreement on the pretext of unpaid debts.
The CCI held that the respondent was not in a dominant position and, referring to the order passed in Kaushal K Rana v DLF Commercial Complexes Ltd(2) (wherein it was held that the respondent was not in a dominant position), closed the matter by invoking Section 26(2) of the Competition Act.
COMPAT dismissed the appellant's appeal, holding that the onus to establish dominance is on the appellant. Where an appellant fails to produce material demonstrating that the respondent has the largest share in the relevant market, it cannot seek a declaration that the CCI committed an error by refusing to consider the issue of dominance and abuse thereof.
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(1) For the full text please see COMPAT's website.