By way of an August 23 2017 order, the Competition Commission of India (CCI) dismissed allegations of cartelisation against the Reserve Bank of India and 19 other banks.(1)

The claimant alleged that the banks, acting pursuant to a horizontal anti-competitive agreement, assumed no liability for the loss of articles, valuables or content kept by customers in their safety deposit locker facilities. The claimant disclosed various documents obtained under the Right to Information Act 2005, which indicated that the banks undertook no responsibility for the loss of valuables kept in their safety lockers.

The CCI held that the claimant had submitted no evidence of cartelisation and that there was no material to suggest any understanding, consensus or arrangement among the banks in order for the CCI to pursue an investigation. Further, it noted that the documents obtained under the Right to Information Act suggested that the banks were not completely absolved from liability for the loss of valuables kept in their lockers. Therefore, in the absence of any evidence of collusion, the CCI found that no uniform practice had been followed.

The CCI also held that the mere common practice exhibited by the banks was a result of independent decision making. This indicated industry practice, rather than collusion. Such common practice cannot be a subject matter of intervention, unless there is prima facie evidence that the impugned conduct stems from an agreement among competitors to pursue activities prohibited under Section 3(3) of the Competition Act. The case was therefore closed under Section 26(2) of the act.

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Endnotes

(1) CCI decision, August 23 2017. For the full text please see the CCI website.