New Delhi: The Competition Commission of India (CCI) has imposed a penalty of Rs50 lakh each on Monsanto Co. and three of its units for failing to comply with an ongoing probe against its officials.

The total penalty thus amounts to Rs2 crore.

In a 14 November order reviewed by Mint, the anti-trust body held the biotech giant and group companies—Mahyco Monsanto Biotech (India) Ltd (MMBL), Monsanto Holdings Pvt. Ltd (MHPL) and Maharashtra Hybrid Seeds Company Ltd—to be in contravention of provisions of the Competition Act, 2002.

Monsanto’s plea that the information sought by the CCI director general was voluminous, historic and needed more time to be furnished, was found untenable.

In 2016, CCI had ordered a detailed probe against Monsanto based on prima facie evidence of violating competition norms.

“We have received the order from the CCI on November 16, 2017 and are reviewing the same. This order is related to a procedural matter and is subject to further orders from the Delhi high court.

Monsanto continues to extensively cooperate with the CCI in the investigation and has been providing information in response to requests received," said a Monsanto spokesperson.

The CCI noted that since no stay had been ordered on its ongoing probe against Monsanto officials by the Delhi high court that is hearing a challenge by the firm, the commission is entitled to proceed under provisions of the Competition Act.

The CCI had earlier told the Delhi high court that Monsanto was not participating in the probe initiated against its officials. (bit.ly/2hYF3VI)

Monsanto and MMBL have challenged a CCI order in Delhi high court, objecting to a probe against its officials.

On 26 July 2016, CCI had asked the seed company to cooperate with the investigation initiated against its officials. Holding officials of the company responsible for anti-competitive and discriminatory practices while conducting its affairs, the order held that the CCI director general was duty-bound to look into the role played by all persons responsible for the conduct of the company.

Sayantan Bera contributed to the story.

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