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The Supreme Court Thursday held that the Competition Commission of India (CCI) could order preliminary enquiry against a company allegedly engaged in unfair trade practices without affording it a hearing.

The court also held that in such a situation the Competition Appellate Tribunal (COMPAT) would not interfere with the CCI’s order for preliminary inquiry into unfair trade practices.

The CCI orders for preliminary inquiry could not be agitated before the COMPAT, said the apex court bench of Chief Justice S.H. Kapadia, Justice K.S. Radhakrishnan and Justice Swatanter Kumar in their judgment.

The apex court judgment came in the wake of the issue whether the CCI could order a probe into an apparent unfair trade practice without affording an opportunity to the affected party to present its case and could the tribunal stay such preliminary investigations.

The CCI had contended that the tribunal could not stay its orders directing preliminary investigation into the allegation of unfair trade practices and dumping.

The court also held that while ordering investigations into alleged unfair trade practices, the CCI would have to record its reasons for doing so.

While holding that the CCI order for preliminary investigation could not be challenged before the Competition Appellate Tribunal, the Supreme Court said that the CCI would exercise such powers sparingly.

Writing the judgment for the bench, Justice Swatanter Kumar said that the investigation into the complaints of unfair trade practices has to be completed within 60 days.

The apex court gave its verdict on a petition by the CCI challenging the tribunal’s order staying its orders of preliminary investigations.


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