In this Roundup, we highlight the main developments in Indian competition law in January 2021.
No Collusion where Identical Pricing
After an investigation into alleged artelisation by two bidders in a tender for the purchase of surgical disposal items by the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), the Competition Commission of India (CCI) concluded that there was no evidence of collusion and closed the case. The investigating Director General (DG) found that the bidders had quoted identical prices, even though one had quoted per box and the other per piece, and that this had resulted from their collusion. The CCI agreed that the bidders had quoted identical prices. However, it pointed out that identical pricing was not in itself sufficient to show collusion, and considered whether market conditions and corroborative evidence could show such collusion. Market conditions – the lack of product homogeneity and the absence of foreclosure/barriers to entry – pointed to the market not being conducive to cartelisation. There was also no corroborative evidence to establish collusion. The identical pricing was oneoff and there was nothing to show that the parties intended to split quantities. There was also no evidence of communications or meetings between the two bidders. After an examination of the pricing structures, the CCI also rejected the DG’s finding that the parties should have quoted different rates as they were at different locations and their costs differed (one manufactured in India and the other imported the product). It considered that the similarity of the price bid for one product could have been coincidental rather than collusive.
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