In this Roundup, we highlight some important developments in Indian competition law in March 2021. We also summarise proposed amendments to the confidentiality regime that the CCI issued in April seeking comments from the public.
Suppliers Sewing up the Market Fined for Bid Rigging
The Competition Commission of India (CCI) found that three suppliers of sewing machines had engaged in bid rigging in respect of a tender floated by the Pune Zilla Parishad for the supply of sewing machines to be distributed to backward classes, women and disabled persons living in rural areas of Pune.1 The suppliers had quoted almost identical prices. This could not have been regarded as a coincidence giving other factors indicating that there had been collusion, such as common arrangements for the payment of tender charges, the use of a single IP address for submitting bids, telephone contacts during the tender process and close coordination in other tenders. In deciding on the level of penalty, the CCI pointed to the need to take serious notice of the infringement given the social welfare objectives of the procurement but noted that the suppliers were sole proprietorship concerns and a partnership firm. It considered that the larger goal of swift market correction would be met with a penalty of INR 1 million (approx. USD 13,340) on the suppliers and INR 10,000 (approx. USD 133) on a number of individual partners.
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