The Supreme Court has dismissed the appeals by tyre manufacturers Ceat and MRF against the Competition Commission of India (CCI) probe into their activities defaulting the anti-trust laws of India and engaging in cartelization and price parallelism.
The Apex Court upheld the order of the Madras High Court, which, in turn, had refused to interfere in the CCI probe. The Apex Court allowed petitioners to contest CCI’s final order as per law.
The bench comprising Dr Justice D.Y. Chandrachud and Justice Sanjiv Khanna observed that the investigation ordered by CCI has been completed and the report has already been submitted. “It has been recorded that all the parties have taken part in the proceedings before the Commission and the final order filed by the CCI was kept in the sealed cover in pursuance to the order dated 8 March 2018 of the High Court. In this backdrop, the High Court has left it open to the parties who are likely to be aggrieved to put out their remedies in accordance with the law. Having regard to the stage of the proceedings, we are not inclined to entertain the SLP under Article 136 of the Constitution. It is needless to add that since the High Court has clarified that parties would be at liberty to pursue their remedies as according to law, all the rights in consensus to the parties are kept open to be pursued in accordance to the law. The SLP is dismissed.”
Senior Advocate Fali Nariman, who appeared on behalf of the petitioner company, submitted that the investigation report which is submitted is contrary to the CCI order because it investigates into a period which is already covered by a form of Commission order.
Advocate Dr. Abhishek Manu Singhvi, appearing on behalf of All India Tyre Dears Federation (AITDF), while agreeing with Nariman stated:“Mr Nariman rightly says to keep everything open, as there are a lot of preliminary threshold points including the reference shall be treated as invalid under Regulations 15-3, not be compromised.”
The MRF had filed the Writ Appeal in the Madras High Court before a division bench against the single judge judgement upholding the validity of the CCI’s enquiry and judgement of the activities of the petitioner. The petitioner claimed that the CCI had moved mechanically and that the investigation was arbitrary.
The Madras High Court bench held that since the CCI investigation was complete and the petitioner and the other firms were included in the proceedings of the investigation, the final report of which has also been submitted, the court would not interfere in the investigation. The court dismissed the petition on the grounds that it had no merit.
Earlier in 2015, the court had allowed the CCI to start with the investigation but later barred it from taking any final decision. Though, the case was initiated by the Ministry of Corporate Affairs in 2013-14, where it had said that 5 domestic tyre manufacturers CEAT, JK Tyres, MRF, Apollo Tyres and their association Automotive Tyre Manufacturer, which accounts for 90% of market share, had increased prices of tyres and tubes on the plea of increase in the cost of raw materials.
Case Name- Ceat, MRF Vs Ministry of Corporate Affairs.