27 Feb 2023 8:00 AM GMT
The Bombay High Court on Tuesday disposed of four petitions challenging Competition Commission of India’s investigation into alleged cartelization and price fixing by debenture trustee units of Axis, SBICap and IDBI.A division bench of Justice G. S. Patel and Justice Neela Gokhale kept all contentions including the issue of jurisdiction open and stated that the CCI will have to decide...
The Bombay High Court on Tuesday disposed of four petitions challenging Competition Commission of India’s investigation into alleged cartelization and price fixing by debenture trustee units of Axis, SBICap and IDBI.
A division bench of Justice G. S. Patel and Justice Neela Gokhale kept all contentions including the issue of jurisdiction open and stated that the CCI will have to decide whether it has jurisdiction over the investigation or not.
The court clarified that if the CCI decides it has jurisdiction, it doesn’t have to defer consideration on merits at a later date.
“It is self-evident that the jurisdictional issue will have to be decided first, one way or the other. We clarify that this does not mean that, should the CCI find that it indeed has jurisdiction, it should defer a consideration on the other aspects to a later date. The CCI will decide the issue of jurisdiction and will pass an order on that issue”, the court stated.
Trustees Association of India along with Axis, SBICap and IDBI had approached the High Court last year in separate writ petitions contending that the CCI’s investigation should be kept in abeyance as the Securities and Exchange Board of India was also investigating the issue.
The parties made contentions regarding the interpretation of Competition Act, 2002 and the SEBI Act, 1992. Further, the parties also made submissions regarding the proper interpretation of Supreme Court judgement in Competition Commission of India v. Bharti Airtel Limited. The court kept all these contentions open for the CCI to decide if it concludes that it has jurisdiction.
Senior Advocate Navroz Seervai for Trustees Association of India submitted before the court that the petitioners will proceed to a hearing before the CCI on all aspects including jurisdiction.
CCI had formed a prima facie view that there is a form of cartelization between debenture trustees to fix prices or rates of fees to the detriment of the debenture/security issuers.
SEBI and CCI were both investigating complaints filed by Muthoot Finance Group. Considering the possibility of conflicting orders due to parallel investigations, the High Court last year stayed CCI’s investigation till completion of SEBI’s investigation.
In the previous hearing, SEBI submitted that its investigation is complete and report has been filed. The petitions along with CCI’s applications for vacation of stay on investigation were posted for final disposal.
Earlier, the court had also directed SEBI to forward a formal opinion on the complaint to the CCI to save time in the investigation.
Case no. – Writ Petition No. 3781 3791, 3842, 3847 of 2022
Case Title – Trustees Association of India v. Competition Commission of India & Ors with connected matters
Citation: 2023 LiveLaw (Bom) 121
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