Many areas of overlapping jurisdiction have emerged between the Competition Commission and sector-specific regulators such as Trai, CERC, PNGRB and more.
The ministry of corporate affairs (MCA) is considering setting up a forum of regulators so as to create a platform where bodies such as CCI, Trai, CERC, IRDA and PNGRB can meet and resolve issues like jurisdictional overlap through discussions.
Sources said many areas of overlapping of jurisdiction have emerged between the Competition Commission of India (CCI) and sector-specific regulators such as Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai), Central Electricity Regulatory Commission (CERC), Insurance Regulatory Development Authority (IRDA), and the Petroleum and Natural Gas Regulatory Board (PNGRB). This is despite the relevant laws being carefully drafted and largely foolproof.
This tussle between the Competition Act and sector-specific regulations has led to unnecessary controversies and delays. These issues have precipitated a lot of litigation as well. Recently, for instance, there have been reports on the clash between CCI and Trai over the point of interconnection (PoI) issue related to Reliance Jio and other operators like Bharti Airtel, a senior government official said.
“So, all challenges, including overlapping issues, are being addressed by the competition law review committee, which is also thinking of having a statutory provision for a forum of regulators. Some thoughts are there at the preliminary stage. So, that many issues may be settled by discussion. We also realise nobody wants somebody to become a super regulator,” the official said.
In August last year, CCI and Trai indulged in a war of words over subjects such as predatory pricing and abuse of market dominance. The fair trade regulator said that Trai does not have the “wherewithal” to deal with such competitive issues, to which the sectoral regulator responded by saying that it has the powers to ensure measures for facilitating “competition” and promoting efficiency.
The official, however, said that since competition is a cross cutting issue, there will be some overlap, but many times laws evolve through jurisprudence.
Confirming the development, another senior government official said, “The committee is working on all these issues. There are working groups set up. Starting next week, we will again sit as a committee and the working groups will start making the presentations.”
Elaborating on other issues, the official said, “There are issues, for instance, when technology driven competition is coming then some of the thresholds for turnover, etc may not be relevant. So, we will have to work out some permutation combination. Some thresholds may have to be changed depending on the sector.”