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Competition laws in India

2024 APR 19

Mains   > Economic Development   >   Indian Economy and issues   >   Miscellaneous


GS 3 >> Indian Economy and Issues 


Recently, the Competition Commission of India (CCI) implemented several changes to the nation's competition law. These changes, stemming from the Competition Law Amendment Act of 2023, encompass guidelines on monetary penalties, new regulations for settlements and commitments, the introduction of fresh thresholds, and the 'leniency plus' provisions.


The competition in the Indian market is regulated by the The Competition Act, 2002. This act regulates and prohibits anti-competitive practices such as cartels, abuse of dominant market position, and mergers and acquisitions that may have an adverse effect on competition.

New Threshold for acquisitions and mergers


The amendment act introduces new threshold to prohibit firms from entering into a combination which may cause an adverse effect on competition.

Deals with transaction value of more than Rs 2,000 crore will require CCI’s approval.

The amended act reduces the timeline for the CCI to pass an order on such transactions from 210 days to 150 days

Penalties for Competition Law Violations

a. The amended act amends the definition of ‘turnover‘ for the imposition of penalties. The penalties will be imposed on company’s global turnover, rather than just its turnover in India.

b. Penalty can go up to 30% of the average relevant turnover/ income, subject to the legal maximum of 10% of the company’s global turnover.

Introduction of ‘Leniency Plus’ provisions


This provision allows the Competition Commission of India (CCI) to give an additional waiver of penalties to an applicant who discloses the existence of another cartel in an unrelated market.

Expedition of clearances of mergers and acquisitions


The amended competition law in India provides for the expedition of CCI clearance of mergers and acquisitions to within 150 days with an additional conservatory extension of 30 days. This is a reduction from the time limit of maximum of 210 days now.
Decriminalization of certain offences

a. The amended competition law in India decriminalizes certain offences by changing the nature of punishment from imposition of fine to civil penalties.

b. These offences include failure to comply with orders of the CCI and directions of the Director General related to anti-competitive agreements and abuse of dominant position.



  • Enhanced Deterrence of Unfair Practices: The modifications to India's competition law strengthen the mechanisms to prevent companies from avoiding penalties for violations by relocating revenues internationally. This ensures a robust deterrent against anti-competitive behaviors, promoting fair competition across all markets.
  • Preventing Market Dominance: By revising thresholds, the amendments to the Competition Act aim to curb the potential for market dominance by large firms. This change empowers the Competition Commission of India (CCI) to swiftly address and rectify situations where monopolistic behaviors may emerge, thus maintaining market health and competitiveness.
  • Promoting Business Efficiency: The changes to the Competition Act are designed to simplify the regulatory environment, reducing the burden of compliance for businesses. This facilitates a smoother operational landscape, offering clearer guidelines and reducing obstacles that previously hindered business operations, ultimately fostering an easier business environment in India.
  • Expansion of Anti-Competitive Definitions: The law now includes broader definitions of what constitutes anti-competitive agreements through the introduction of 'leniency plus' provisions. This expansion helps to address and capture a wider array of illicit activities, including those that might aid in cartel formation, thereby tightening enforcement against collusion.
  • Increasing Transparency and Accountability: By incorporating global turnover in the definition of "turnover," the amendments bring greater transparency and accountability to business operations within the Indian market. This change aims to ensure that financial activities and market behaviors are more transparently tracked and regulated, enhancing overall market integrity.


  • Resource Constraints at the CCI: One of the primary challenges facing the Competition Commission of India is its limited capacity in terms of manpower and resources. This shortage makes it particularly challenging to effectively oversee and regulate anti-competitive practices, especially those employed by major technology companies. The complexity and scale of operations of these large firms require a robust regulatory body with sufficient resources to maintain fair competition.
  • Impact on Foreign Direct Investment (FDI): There is a concern that the new provisions imposing penalties based on global turnover could negatively impact foreign direct investment. These fines, levied on the worldwide earnings of multinational corporations, could act as a deterrent for companies that operate in multiple product markets globally, potentially seeing India as a less attractive investment destination due to heightened financial risks.
  • Challenges in Penalty Enforcement: The Competition Commission of India has faced significant difficulties in enforcing penalties, with only a 0.4% recovery rate of imposed fines over the past five years. This low recovery rate is partly due to the CCI's limited success in upholding its decisions in higher judicial forums, such as appellate tribunals and courts, which often overturn or reduce penalties.
  • Potential Negative Effects on Emerging Industries: There are apprehensions that stringent penalties might adversely affect burgeoning sectors in India, such as semiconductors, electronics, electric vehicles, renewable energy, avionics, and defense equipment. These "sunrise industries" are vital for the country's technological and economic advancement, and overly harsh regulatory measures could stifle their growth and innovation.


  • Strengthening the Regulatory Framework: To effectively tackle digital anti-competitive practices, there is a need for a significant overhaul of the Competition Commission of India. This could include the establishment of specialized divisions or cells within the CCI, equipped with technical experts who can address the complexities of the digital economy.
  • Refining Penalty Assessment Processes: The CCI should adopt a comprehensive, multilevel scrutiny process similar to models used in the European Union and Germany when determining fines based on global turnovers. This approach should consider various factors such as the nature of the infringement, the resultant harm, and market share, ensuring that penalties are fair and proportionate to the offense.
  • Enhancing Judicial Efficiency: There is an urgent need for the government to establish a dedicated bench within the National Company Law Appellate Tribunal (NCLAT) specifically for swiftly handling appeals in anti-competitive cases. Additionally, leveraging provisions like Section 39 of the Competition Act in conjunction with the Income Tax Act of 1961 can expedite the recovery of penalty amounts once cases are conclusively resolved in appeals.
  • Implementing Robust Oversight Mechanisms: It is crucial to institute effective checks and balances within the CCI to prevent any misuse of discretionary powers by regulatory authorities. This mechanism will ensure that enforcement actions are transparent, justified, and consistent with legal standards.
  • Safeguarding Emerging Industries: The CCI must strike a careful balance between regulating anti-competitive behaviors and nurturing the growth of emerging sectors such as semiconductors and renewable energy. Enforcement policies should be aligned with broader economic objectives, such as promoting ease of doing business, to support the development of these critical industries.


Q: Assess the significance of the recent amendments to the Competition Act of 2002 and identify the key challenges these amendments might introduce in the enforcement of competition law in India.(15M, 250W)