Antitrust regulator Competition Commission of India (CCI) may soon have a tighter deadline to follow while scrutinizing applications for merger and acquisition approvals.

The changes to the Competition law proposed in the Competition (Amendment) Bill, 2022 talks of reducing the time-limit for approval of combinations to 150 days from the current 210 day time frame, it is learnt. The bill is expected to be introduced in the Parliament during the ongoing session. The commission may also be required to form a prima facie opinion about the combination proposal within 20 days to speed up the approval process.

The reduction of the regulatory timeframe is part of a series of changes proposed in the Competition Bill to make the Competition Act, 2002 more relevant in the current business environment. The proposed changes, once enacted, will set a three year time limit for filing information on anti-competitive agreements and abuse of dominant position before the commission. It will also expand the scope of mergers and acquisitions that needs CCI approval by adding "value of transaction" also as a criterion (in addition to turnover and asset value) for notifying combinations to the commission.

The government is known to have incorporated changes in definitions like "enterprise", "relevant product market", etc., in the bill to provide more clarity and enlarge the scope of anti-competitive agreements.

Another salient feature of the bill is known to be the attempt to reduce litigations by providing bigger scope for settlement of contraventions of the competition law through transparent commitment made by the offenders. It is likely to incentivise parties in an ongoing cartel investigation by imposing lesser penalties in lieu of disclosures relating to other cartels.

The changes in the bill have been incorporated on the basis of wide ranging public consultations. The government had constituted a Competition Law Review Committee, to examine and suggest the modifications in the Competition Act. The changes are the result of the recommendations of the committee, followed by the public consultations.

Ever since the Competition Act was enacted in 2002, there has been a significant growth of Indian markets and a paradigm shift in the way businesses operate.

CCI's mandate is to prevent practices having adverse effects on competition, to promote and sustain competition in markets, to protect the interests of consumers and to ensure freedom of trade carried on by other participants in India.

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