The Competition Commission of India (CCI) has amended its regulations to allow advocates to accompany parties summoned during an investigation by the Director General (DG).
The Competition Commission of India (General) Amendment Regulations, 2018 insert Section 46A to the 2009 Regulations, introducing the change.
The new provision, however, clarifies that the advocate shall be allowed to accompany the person only when a request in writing, accompanied by a Vakalatnama or Power of Attorney, is duly submitted to the DG, prior to the commencement of the proceedings.
Further, an advocate can neither sit in front of the person so summoned, nor be at a hearing distance of such person. He is also barred from interacting, consulting, conferring or in any manner communicating with the person, during his examination on oath.
The DG has, in fact, been empowered to make a written complaint to the CCI in case of any “misconduct” by an advocate. The term, “misconduct” has been prescribed to have the same meaning as Regulation 46, which defines it as:
“For the purpose of this regulation, word “misconduct” shall include causing prejudice to or interfering with or attempting to interfere with, the due process of any proceeding or obstructing or attempting to obstruct, the compliance or execution of any order or direction of the Commission, in any manner, or using defamatory language or behaving defiantly or attempting to undermine or undermining the prestige of any Member or Officer of the Commission in any manner whatsoever.”
The CIC has been authorised to order debarment of advocates found guilty of misconduct, from appearing in proceedings before the DG and the CIC. The CIC may also order forwarding of a complaint in writing to the Bar Council of the State of which the Advocate is a member.
The amendment seems to have been issued in the wake of a judgment passed by the Delhi High Court in May this year, when the court had upheld the rights of parties summoned by the DG to be accompanied by Advocates.
Much similar to the amendment, the high court had specifically asked the DG to ensure that “the counsel does not sit in front of the witness; but is some distance away and the witness should be not able to confer, or consult her or him”.