Q1: What is the Competition Commission of India (CCI)?
Answer: The Competition Commission of India (CCI) is a statutory body responsible for regulating and ensuring fair competition in the Indian market and preventing anti-competitive practices.
Q2: How does CCI define ‘whistleblower’ in its new regulations?
Answer: In the context of the CCI’s new regulations, a ‘whistleblower’ refers to a company that exposes and provides information about cartel activities it is a part of, aiming to get a lesser penalty in return.
Q3: What is meant by ‘cartelisation’?
Answer: Cartelisation refers to a practice where companies, often competitors, collude or come together to manipulate market prices, production, or distribution. This is done to minimize competition, which can disadvantage consumers and stifle genuine market competition.
Q4: What is the proposed “lesser penalty plus” system by CCI?
Answer: The “lesser penalty plus” system proposes that a whistleblower, who has already provided the CCI with information about one cartel they are part of, will receive a lesser penalty if they further provide details about a separate, unrelated cartel.
Q5: Why is the “lesser penalty plus” system being introduced?
Answer: This system aims to incentivize existing whistleblowers to provide full, true, and vital disclosures about other cartels unknown to the CCI. It encourages more companies to come forward with information about multiple cartels, promoting transparency and curbing anti-competitive practices.
Q6: How does the proposed system differ from the older rules?
Answer: Previously, the Competition Act had a provision, Section 46, that allowed the imposition of lesser penalties on whistleblower companies if they disclosed vital information about their cartel activities. The new “lesser penalty plus” system bolsters this by offering additional benefits to those whistleblowers who expose more than one cartel.
Q7: What are the benefits for companies coming forward as the second or third applicants under the new draft rules?
Answer: If the second or third applicants provide the CCI with material information about a second, unrelated cartel, they can get a 30% reduction in the penalty imposed for their participation in the first cartel. Furthermore, they would also be registered as the first applicant in the second cartel, making them eligible for a penalty reduction of up to 100% in that second cartel.
Q8: What are the implications of this system for the broader market and competition?
Answer: By incentivizing companies to come forward with information about cartels, the system promotes a more transparent, competitive, and fair market environment. It discourages the formation of cartels and ensures that companies indulging in such practices are held accountable.
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