Indian competition law: An overview of national case law

Click here to read the full article online

India is rather a new entrant in the field of competition and antitrust laws. The year 2022 marks two decades of enactment of the Indian Competition Act, 2002 (“ICA”). Enactment of the ICA in 2002 was a watershed in Indian regulatory regime. The ICA succeeded the archaic Monopolies & Restrictive Trade Practices Act, 1965 (“MRTP”) which had outlived its relevance in a country where the economy was already on the path of liberalization and privatization since 1991. The MRTP Act came into existence when the Indian economy was only just finding its feet and the country was emerging out of foreign rule which had lasted over 200 years. The new government was determined to be in control of enterprises as India had already suffered at the hands of the East India Company of England which came to India with the objective to trade but ended up colonizing the entire country. The MRTP Act sought to prevent concentration of economic power and prohibited restrictive and monopolistic trade practices.

The ICA was a step towards modernization of the Indian law on regulation of competition in markets. This was in-line with the regulatory regimes prevalent in mature jurisdictions across the world. While the ICA was enacted in 2002, it was met with several legal and jurisdictional challenges before the constitutional courts of India, which delayed its enforcement. The behavioral provisions of the ICA were enforced on 20 May 2009 and the merger control provisions on 1 June 2011.

The ICA is enforced by the nodal regulator established under the legislation, the Competition Commission of India (“CCI”). The CCI since 2009 has completed investigations in over 600 behavioral cases and cleared over 900 combinations. This special issue commemorates two decades of the Indian competition law regime and highlights the recent key judicial and regulatory developments in India from 2020 and 2021.

In the following sections, we summaries some of the landmark behavioral judgments, merger control orders and regulatory developments which have enriched competition law and jurisprudence in recent times.