New Delhi: The government is working on amendments to the Competition Act, 2002, to allow quick settlement of anti-trust cases outside the otherwise lengthy adjudication procedure.

This is part of a set of amendments recommended by a 10-member panel led by corporate affairs secretary Injeti Srinivas that submitted its report in August, said a person privy to the development. The provision for ‘settlement and commitment’ that is prevalent in the European Union, which will be introduced in India’s competition law will lead to speedier resolution of anti-trust cases.

Experts said the move was aimed at rationalising regulatory framework and improving the ease of doing business. As per the recommendation, businesses facing charges of anti-competitive practices can resolve the case by paying a settlement amount. Such settlement will not be appealable. Settlement option would be available for cases related to anti-competitive agreements such as exclusive supply deals as well as cases of abuse of dominance. The Competition Commission of India (CCI) will also decide non-monetary terms while allowing settlement of such cases. Settlement options are already available to businesses under the regulatory framework of Securities and Exchange Board of India (Sebi) and the Income Tax Department.

“Commitment and settlement options are efficient ways of resolving cases. It reduces the cost of investigation, improves compliance and is a win-win for both the parties," said Subodh Prasad Deo, partner at law firm Saikrishna & Associates and former additional director general of CCI.

Mint on 15 August reported that the Injeti Srinivas panel has recommended a revamp of the country’s anti-trust regulation, including the introduction of fast-track clearance for mergers and acquisitions that do not stifle market competition.

Business Standard on Monday reported, quoting Competition Commission of India chairperson Ashok Kumar Gupta, that the Competition Act is likely to be amended in the winter session of Parliament to introduce the settlement and commitment clause.

“The move will improve ease of doing business in India," said M.M. Sharma, head of competition law practice at Vaish Associates, a law firm.

The move coincides with the government’s efforts to decriminalise a large number of violations under the Companies Act and rationalise penalty provisions to make the regulatory regime more investment friendly and less adversarial.

Recently, in cases of income tax disputes, the government sharply raised the monetary ceiling for appeals in tribunals, high courts and the Supreme Court so that businesses are not distracted from their operations by disputes over small amounts.

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