Workshop on New Competition Law of India – What does it mean to consumers?

  • The Consumer Coordination Council, New Delhi, in association with the Federation of Consumer Associations, West Bengal organised National Consumer Convention, 2001 at the Salt Lake Stadium, Calcutta during 10th and 11th of February 2001.
  • More than 500 consumer representatives from all over the country was present at the Convention as delegates. They represent consumer groups active at various levels, from grassroots to international.
  • Taking this opportunity, on 11th February 2001, Consumer Unity & Trust Society (CUTS), Jaipur organised a Workshop on New Competition Law of India: What does it mean to consumers?. More than 50 participants took part in this interactive session, which discussed various issues of competition and consumer welfare.
  • Dr. S. Sothi Rachagan, Director, Consumers International Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific (CI-ROAP), Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia chaired the Workshop, while Mr. Bipul Chatterjee, Associate Director, CUTS and Mr. Rajat Chaudhuri, Coordinator, CUTS were speakers.
  • Rachagan started the event by introducing speakers to the participants and provided a background for organising the Workshop. In his opening remarks, he stated why it is necessary to organise ‘competition and consumer welfare’ workshops for the benefit of common consumers, particularly the disadvantaged ones. He stressed on the following steps that need to be taken into account while discussing the issue:
    1. competition policy,
    2. competition law,
    3. competition authority (administrative and investigative), and
    4. competition watchdog.
  • Chatterjee spoke about the historical perspectives of competition law in India and why is it necessary to adopt a new competition law in the country, given the changing economic scenarios in a globalising world.
    1. He also spoke about the initiatives taken by CUTS towards disseminating information on competition issues to common consumers, for promoting a healthy competition culture in the country and the benefits that consumers would get out of a comprehensive competition regime.
  • Chaudhuri dealt with the basic features of the new Indian competition law (which is yet to be passed in the parliament) and their impact on consumer welfare. Giving examples of competition cases, in simple language, he explained the competition abuses that common consumers are facing today and what are the steps required for overcoming them.
  • Rachagan informed the participants on what is happening at the international level and their possible impact at the domestic level.
  • The participants raised issues relating to problems that they are facing in their day-to-day life due to various anti-competitive practices. The speakers clarified the points raised and suggested suitable way outs.
  • Chatterjee expressed thanks to the speakers and the participants for taking part in this important and timely initiative taken by CUTS.
  • Finally, Rachagan acknowledged the role that CUTS is playing in educating common consumers on this important issue on which there is little knowledge and put forward the following suggestions for further action:
    1. Anti-dumping clauses and safety standards are to be built into the competition law so that consumer interest and public interest are taken care of.
    2. Enforcement is not a matter of capacity. The law must give power to enforce competition law in its letter and spirit and check competition abuses in the market place.
    3. Resources should be made available and utilised for proper functioning of the competition authority.
    4. There should be a separate fund for awareness generation on competition issues as per the competition law and the competition authority should make full and proper use of that fund.
  • These suggestions were put as resolutions during the Valedictory Session of the Convention, held on 11th February 2001. They were adopted by the delegates, passed them by voice vote, and entrusted CUTS to take appropriate action.