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The Central government is set to modify the Competition (amendment) Bill 2022 that is pending before the Parliament based on recommendations made by the Parliamentary Standing committee on Finance which gave its report in December.

The union cabinet on Tuesday considered the required modifications to the Bill based on the standing committee report, three persons privy to the discussions in government said on condition of anonymity. However, the government did not announce a final decision in this regard. The needed changes will have to be incorporated in the Bill before it is taken up for discussion in the forthcoming budget session of Parliament starting on 31 January.

An email sent to the ministry of corporate affairs on Tuesday remained unanswered at the time of publishing.

The parliamentary panel led by BJP’s Jayant Sinha had made several recommendations for changes to the bill.

The bill seeks to fine tune the regulatory framework in line with the changes in business models that have emerged over the last two decades. It proposes global best practices like settlement and commitment and enhanced leniency provisions.

The standing committee had recommended expanding the scope of settlement and commitment scheme proposed in the Bill to include cartels as well. This scheme is meant to allow settlement of cases with the Competition Commission of India (CCI) by paying a settlement fees to the government.

The original Bill had covered only offences like entering into anti-competitive agreements and abuse of dominance in the scheme. The panel also said that CCI’s existing merger approval timelines should be retained and need not be further curtailed as had been suggested in the original bill. The panel shot down a provision in the bill allowing the director general of investigation to examine on oath stakeholders like legal advisers to parties, saying it would breach the attorney-client privilege and the Indian Evidence Act.

The panel had also proposed that reasonable use of intellectual property rights should be allowed as a valid defence against allegations of abuse of dominance. This could provide businesses with stronger legal protection when using their intellectual property rights (IPRs).

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Rituraj Baruah

Rituraj Baruah is a senior correspondent at Mint, reporting on housing, urban affairs, small businesses and energy. He has reported on diverse sectors over the last six years including, commodities and stocks market, insolvency and real estate. He has previous stints at Cogencis Information Services, Indo-Asian News Service (IANS) and Inc42.
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