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21 May 2024 : PIB Summary for UPSC

1. Attorney General for India Shri R. Venkataramani delivers Keynote address at 15th Annual Day commemoration of Competition Commission of India

Topic: GS2 – Indian Polity – Constitutional Bodies

GS2 – Indian Polity – Statutory Bodies.

Context
●  The Attorney General of India, Shri R. Venkataramani, delivered a keynote address at the 15th Annual Day of the Competition Commission of India (CCI).

He discussed the need for innovative competition regulation in the digital age, emphasising balance between free markets and social benefits, and highlighting recent legal developments.

 Analysis of the news:

  • Shri R. Venkataramani, Attorney General for India, addressed the 15th Annual Day of the Competition Commission of India (CCI) in New Delhi.
Attorney General for India:
Constitutional Provision: The Attorney General for India is appointed under Article 76 of the Indian Constitution.

Role: The Attorney General is the chief legal advisor to the Government of India and represents the government in the Supreme Court and other courts.

●  Appointment: The President of India appoints the Attorney General. The appointee must be a person qualified to be a judge of the Supreme Court.

Qualifications: To be eligible, the individual must be an Indian citizen and have at least five years of experience as a judge of a High Court or ten years as an advocate of a High Court, or be an eminent jurist.

Term: The term of the Attorney General is not fixed by the Constitution and serves at the pleasure of the President.

Duties: The Attorney General provides legal advice to the Government of India upon request, performs duties of a legal character assigned by the President, and discharges functions conferred by the Constitution or any other law.

Rights and Limitations: The Attorney General has the right to audience in all courts in India and can participate in parliamentary proceedings but does not have the right to vote. The position also carries restrictions on private practice.

Competition Commission of India (CCI):
Establishment: The Competition Commission of India (CCI) was set up in March 2009 by the Government of India under the Competition Act, 2002, to oversee the administration, implementation, and enforcement of the Act.

Objective: CCI aims to prevent practices that have an adverse effect on competition, promote and sustain competition in markets, protect consumer interests, and ensure freedom of trade.

Structure: CCI is composed of a Chairperson and a maximum of six members appointed by the Central Government.

Eligibility: The Central Government appoints all members, who must be eligible to serve as a High Court judge or have a minimum of 15 years of professional experience in a pertinent field.

Functions: The CCI’s functions include eliminating anti-competitive practices, regulating mergers and acquisitions, and promoting competition advocacy.

Powers: CCI has the authority to conduct inquiries, impose penalties, and issue orders to cease and desist from anti-competitive practices.

Enforcement: CCI can investigate practices such as cartels, abuse of dominant position, and anti-competitive agreements, using its powers to conduct dawn raids and summon documents.

Advisory Role: CCI provides opinions on competition issues upon request by statutory authorities or the Central/State Governments.

Competition Advocacy: CCI engages in competition advocacy, spreading awareness about competition principles and encouraging a culture of competition in India.

  • He emphasised the evolving need for competition regulation, touching on aspects from preventing unfair competition to ensuring common good.
  • Venkataramani highlighted the balance between free market incentives and social benefits, advocating for new regulatory ideas.
  • He discussed the convergence of international competition laws and the challenges of regulatory frameworks.
  • Venkataramani noted the importance of sustainability in business and competition policy.
  • Emphasised the significance of behavioural economics and privacy considerations in competition law.
  • He called for dynamic regulatory principles and guidelines based on Indian market studies to empower smaller players and guide larger ones.
  • Ravneet Kaur, Chairperson of CCI, reflected on CCI’s 15-year journey and its initiatives to protect consumers and foster economic welfare.
  • Highlighted recent amendments in competition law, including Settlements & Commitments, Deal Value Threshold, and Hub & Spoke Cartels.
  • He emphasised the need for regulatory agility in the digital economy, with CCI launching a market study on AI to understand competition dynamics.
Challenges posed by Digital markets:
Challenges Posed by Digital Markets for CCI:

Market Dominance: Digital markets are often dominated by a few large players (e.g., tech giants) with significant market power, making it difficult to ensure fair competition.

Data Monopoly: Control over vast amounts of user data by a few companies can lead to anti-competitive practices and barriers for new entrants.

Dynamic Market Structures: Rapid technological advancements and evolving business models in digital markets pose challenges for traditional competition assessment frameworks.

Cross-Border Issues: Digital markets often operate across borders, complicating the enforcement of competition laws and coordination with international regulatory bodies.

Algorithmic Collusion: The use of algorithms and AI in pricing and market strategies can lead to collusion, which is difficult to detect and regulate.

Platform Neutrality: Ensuring platform neutrality and preventing self-preferencing by dominant platforms remains a significant challenge.

Consumer Protection: Balancing competition enforcement with consumer protection in the context of data privacy and user rights.

Way Forward for CCI:

Regulatory Framework Update: Adapt and update competition laws to address the unique challenges posed by digital markets.

Data Regulation: Implement regulations to ensure data portability and prevent data monopolies, fostering competitive digital ecosystems.

Cross-Border Cooperation: Strengthen international cooperation with other competition authorities to address cross-border digital market issues.

Algorithmic Oversight: Develop expertise in algorithmic analysis and AI to detect and prevent algorithmic collusion and other anti-competitive practices.

Proactive Monitoring: Establish dedicated units to monitor digital markets and investigate potential anti-competitive behavior proactively.

Stakeholder Engagement: Engage with stakeholders, including tech companies, startups, and consumer groups, to understand market dynamics and address competition concerns effectively.

Public Awareness: Enhance public awareness and advocacy on digital market competition issues to promote a competitive and fair digital economy.

Practice Question:  Discuss the role of the Competition Commission of India (CCI) in ensuring fair competition in the digital economy. How can CCI adapt its regulatory frameworks to address the unique challenges posed by digital markets? (250 Words /15 marks)

 

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