The article provides an insight into the importance of Competition Advocacy amongst the various sectors of the market. It also provides the duty of the Commission regarding the same and various initiatives undertaken by the Commission for promoting the competition law policies
Competition Advocacy in India
The concept of having a legal system to regulate the competition in the market is very old; however, this concept came to be heard in India only in 2002. The Indian Parliament came out with the Competition Act in 2002 to regulate the competition in the market by repealing the Monopolies and Restrictive Trade Practices Act of 1969.
The Competition Act of 2002 has been amended twice, once in 2007 by virtue of The Competition (Amendment) Act, 2007 and then in 2009 by virtue of The Competition (Amendment) Act, 2009. There are two principal features of the Competition Act of 2002 namely, the establishment of the Competition Commission of India and not only to promote the competition which is positive and healthy in nature but also to prohibit all the anti-competitive practices prevailing in the Indian market.
The new Competition Act got enforce in the year of 2002 and is drafted in such a way that it lays down certain tools and legal frameworks in order to make sure that the competition policies are being followed and to do away with the anti-competitive practices and if any of such policies is followed, the Act provides punishment for the same. The Act, inter alia, works upon protecting the free, fair and healthy competition in the market, freedom of trade and interests of the public at large.
One of the main features of modern competition law is competition advocacy that focuses on the creation and expansion of competition in the Indian market.
CCI mandates for the various bodies to undertake advocacy for the promotion of competition. Those activities that are performed for the promotion of competition in the environment so that economic activities can be conducted in a smooth manner, such an activity is known as competition advocacy. Consumers form part of the group that benefits the most from the competition law and policies because the competition act focuses to save the interests of the consumers per se.
When we support or influence a particular idea or policy, such an activity is known as advocacy. The more willing are the people to accept the law and the policies made by the government, the more effectively the law and policies can get implemented. As per the above-mentioned statement, a major role is played by the advocacy for making people aware of any law and policy so that it can be implemented better. The important step is, thus, to raise the level of awareness amongst the public at large to create the required culture of competition in the market.
I. Raghavan Committee
Since 1991, the Indian government had come up with various reforms in the economic policies of the country due to the atmosphere of liberalization all across the world. Further in 1999, to be in line with the guidelines by World Trade Organization, the Indian government has led to the formation of the Raghavan Committee, a high-level committee with a major focus on competition policies and competition laws for the country.
This committee was encasted with the duty to provide advice on the modern competition law with a view on the developments that take place in the international market and also to provide suggestions on the legislative framework that is in tune with the developments internationally or provide suggestions to amend the MRTP Act.
The role of Commission is not limited just to enforce the competition law in all the markets across the country. The commission is also expected to take part in all those activities that are directed towards formulating the economic policies for the country, which are in the capacity to affect the economic performance, business conduct and competitive market structure adversely.
The commission is encasted with the duty to perform the role of the competition advocate as well so that the policies can be drafted by the Government in such a way that removes the obstacles for entering, promoting deregulations and liberalization of trade along with the promotion of competition in the markets in the country. This is how the implementation of competition law, as well as the competition advocacy, are directly proportional in nature.
CCI is also encased with the duty to build a relationship between the various regulatory bodies and the Departments and Ministries of the Government and any other body for the formulation and administration of the policies that create impact on the demand and supply chain in the market so that the program of competition advocacy can be successful.
These kinds of relationships will try to improve the communication and search for alternatives which are less harmful in nature for not only the competition but also the welfare of the consumers.
The possible ways for the Commission to achieve these goals can be encouraging debates on the matter and the promotion of a better and more informed way of making any decision. It is important to keep the competition advocacy transparent and open so that the integrity and the capability of the Commission can be safeguarded.
II. Advocacy under the Competition Act, 2002
The ability of the competition office established under the Act to provide advice, participate and influence the regulatory and economic policies of the government so that market performance, firm behaviour and competitive industry structure can be promoted as per the guidelines by the World Trade Organization.
For recognizing the importance of various stakeholders, the emphasis has been laid by the Act on the three steps for the Commission to take the initiative:
- The policymakers (Central and State Governments),
- The sectoral regulators and
- The public at large.
It is provided by the legal regulations that the governments at the Central and State level have to take opinion from the Commission before taking any step which is directed towards the competition in the market. Such an opinion by the Commission will be for the purpose of reference and not binding for the Government to follow. On the other hand, the Commission is empowered to give any recommendation or opinion to the government as and when deemed fit by the former on any matter of competition only.
Thus, it is clear that advocacy is a very important tool in almost all the jurisdictions across the world for regulating the competition in the market. The regulators are under the duty to inform the Commission before taking any step that is directed towards the dimensions of the competition.
The Act has a specific provision for the advocating competition for the creation of the awareness and training could be imparted regarding the issues on competition amongst the various stakeholders. The Act also provides for the creation of a specific fund with the objective of promoting the advocacy of competition in the market. These initiatives are started with the motive to target not only consumers and various consumer organizations but also the judiciary, bureaucrats, lawmakers, professionals, business and so on.
III. Initiatives of Competition Advocacy by CCI
The Central Government had taken the step of establishing the Competition Commission of India on October 14, 2003. From that time onwards, the Commission has been seen performing outstanding work in the direction of advocating its role and competition. The Commission has taken part in the examination of the Warehousing (Development and Regulation) Bill as proposed in 2005, the Carriage by Road Bill as proposed in 2005 and the Broadcasting Services Regulation Bill as proposed in 2006 by keeping its eye on the competition.
Another step taken by the Commission was that it approached both University Grants Commission (UGC) and the National Council for Education Research and Training (NCERT) for the inclusion of laws and policies related to the competition in the curriculum of schools as well as colleges.
Other steps that were taken by the Commission for the creation of initiatives for creating and promoting awareness regarding competition law are as follows:
- Seminars and Workshops at State and National level
- Organization of special lectures for officers of the Commission
- Studies and papers published for advocating competition and for the creation of awareness of the issues in the competition
- Press releases and press conferences
- Consultation papers that are placed or published on the website of the Commission
- Studies of the market and the research projects undertaken by the Commission
 Section 49 of the Competition Act, 2020.
 Section 49 (1) of the Competition Act, 2002 as amended by the Competition (Amendment) Act, 2007
 Section 49 (2) of the Competition Act, 2002 as amended by the Competition (Amendment) Act, 2007
 Section 49 (3) of the Competition Act, 2002 as amended by the Competition (Amendment) Act, 2007
 Section 51 (2) (b) of the Competition Act, 2002
 Appendice 1, Competition Act, 2002