NEW DELHI: In a relief to cement companies, the Competition Appellate Tribunal on Friday has set aside the Rs 6,300 crore penalty on 11 cement companies imposed by the Competition Commission of India (CCI). The tribunal has set aside the CCI order of penalty on cement companies and told them to give a fresh order in three months.
The Tribunal also allowed the cement manufacturers to withdraw the 10 per cent penalty amount already deposited with the CCI. The tribunal also asked the commission to frame guidelines in accordance with principles of natural justice to conduct inquiry into cases of cartelisation.
CCI in its order had asked the cement companies to ‘cease and desist’ from indulging in any activity relating to agreement, understanding or arrangement on prices, production and supply of cement in the market.
The 11 cement firms include ACC, Ambuja Cement, Ultratech Cements, Grasim Cements (now merged with UltraTech), J K Cements, The India Cements, Madras Cements, Century Cements, Binani Cements, Lafarge India and Jaypee Cements.
The CCI had passed the orders after an investigation into complaints, including from Builders Association of India (BAI) against alleged price cartelisation among cement firms. The orders were later challenged at the Tribunal, which on Friday ordered that “the impugned order is set aside and the matter is remitted to the Commission (CCI) for fresh adjudication of the issues relating to alleged violation of the relevant sections of the Competition Act.”
The tribunal said, “We hope and trust the Commission shall pass fresh order as early as possible but within a period of three months from the date, which may be notified after receipt of this order.”
The CCI’s penalty against cement manufacturers has been one of the biggest imposed so far by the regulator and the Tribunal’s verdict in this case may have repercussions for other cases also where CCI has imposed hefty penalties.
The Tribunal order said that whether the CCI Chairperson, who did not hear arguments of the learned counsel representing the appellants could become a party to the final order passed by the CCI, was one of the questions which arose in the appeals filed against CCI order of June 20, 2012.