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India plans to arm CCI with power to scrutinise global M&A deals
New Delhi, Aug 5 - The Centre on Friday proposed significant amendments in the Competition Act, 2002, aiming to give the Competition Commission of India (CCI) powers to scrutinise all global mergers and acquisition deals exceeding $252 million with "substantial business operations in India".
The Competition (Amendment) Bill, 2022 has come in light of several Big Tech companies like Meta, Microsoft and Google now having huge presence in the country, which has recently seen a huge sum of investment coming from tech giants like Facebook and Google and global VC firms.
"There has been a significant growth of Indian markets and a paradigm shift in the way businesses operate in the last decade. In view of the economic development, emergence of various business models and the experience gained out of the functioning of the Commission, the Government of India constituted Competition Law Review Committee, to examine and suggest the modifications in the said Act," according to The Competition (Amendment) Bill, 2022 that was presented in the Lok Sabha.
Subject to the provisions of this Act, "it shall be the duty of the CCI to eliminate practices having adverse effect on competition, promote and sustain competition, protect the interests of consumers and ensure freedom of trade carried on by other participants, in markets in India", it read.
The Competition Act, 2002 was enacted to provide for establishment of a Commission to prevent practices having adverse effect on competition, to promote and sustain competition in markets, to protect the interests of consumers and to ensure freedom of trade carried on by other participants, in India.
Presented by Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman, the Competition (Amendment) Bill, 2022 seeks broadening the scope of anti-competitive agreements and inclusion of a party facilitating an anti-competitive horizontal agreement under such agreements.
It also seeks introduction of Settlement and Commitment framework to reduce litigations and issuance of guidelines including on penalties to be imposed by the Commission.
As government regulators the world over, especially in European countries, penalise Big Tech for millions of dollars over anti-competitive behaviour, India is finally taking some steps in this direction.
Lately, the CCI has taken charge to tame giants like Amazon, Apple, Google, Facebook and others from harming competition and safeguarding the interests of local businesses.
Under Ashok Kumar Gupta, a 1981 batch IAS officer from the Tamil Nadu cadre with 40 years in public service, the antitrust watchdog has been hailed for leading probes against e-commerce giants, social media firms and device manufacturers.
According to Gupta, the Chairman of CCI, Big Tech firms are "centres for entrenched and unchecked dominance".
The CCI is currently investigating both Apple App Store and Google Play Store policies, particularly their payment methods that harm local app developers.
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