On May 23, 2019, CCI dismissed the allegations of refusal to deal and denial of market access against Maharashtra Seamless Limited (‘MSL’) filed by Oil Country Tubular Limited (‘Informant’).
The Informant was in the business of purchasing unprocessed, plain end seamless pipes (‘Green Pipes’) and processing them into ‘seamless casing pipes’, according to specifications of the American Petroleum Institute, to be supplied to Oil and Natural Gas Corporation Limited (‘ONGC’), OIL India Limited and other such enterprises. In accordance with the government’s steel policy (which provided for a preference to domestically manufactured iron and steel products in government procurement contracts valued at more than INR 50 crores (approx. USD 7 million)), ONGC/OIL India Limited tenders required the Green Pipes to be procured from Indian manufacturers only and import was prohibited.
According to the Informant, MSL, besides being a competitor of the Informant was also the only manufacturer of Green Pipes above the size of 7”OD, since the other registered manufacturers either did not produce Green Pipes of such size or had exited the market. For an ONGC tender in the month of October 2018, the Informant approached MSL thrice through email, requesting the supply of Green Pipes but MSL did not respond. Therefore, the Informant filed information with CCI alleging refusal to deal and denial of market access.
CCI noted that the Informant approached MSL each time at the last minute or at a belated stage which was inconsistent with ordinary business behavior. The Informant’s conduct was therefore, held not to be diligent and lacking bona fides. Furthermore, MSL highlighted that the Informant had never approached them before October, 2018 and that the guidelines for tenderers prohibited such agreements between enterprises who were competitors/bidders for the ONGC tender. Accordingly, CCI observed that the allegations against MSL were unsubstantiated, and dismissed the case.