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Indian Competition Amendment Bill

Indian Competition Amendment Bill

With the advent of a continually evolving digital economy, the Indian legislature shifted its focus to the India Competition Law to ensure that it is in line with the digital markets. As a result of this, the new amendment Bill namely the Competition Amendment Bill 2020 was brought forward with major changes with respect to the mergers and acquisitions and as per the Amendment Bill, 2020, those mergers and acquisitions which have or might have an appreciable adverse effect on competition, considering their volume of or the manner of data processing by the parties, shall be held as violative of the Competition Act.

Big data is defined as a vast set of information that contains all of an individual's online actions, and it is this data that assists both companies and customers in making purchasing and research more personalised in nature, thereby commercialising the data of the consumers. Big data mergers, which have been at a twofold rise between the years 2008-2015 as per the OECD Report, are not investigated by the Competition Commission of India (CCI) until they exceed the threshold set out in Section 5 of the Competition Act (which is based on the asset turnover approach). Now, the Amendment Bill does not give the CCI direct authority to deal with Big Data mergers; rather, it gives the Central Government the authority to decide, in consultation with the CCI, to bring forth any other approach, other than asset turnover, to notify a merger transaction to the CCI, as long as the said approach is in the public interest.

But the said amendment has been criticized on the grounds that, what exactly does the term public interest means has not ben defined under the amendment and that the said amendment does not actually provide for protection of public interest and secondly that the said amendment has diluted the power of the CCI as the power to decide the threshold has been provided to the Central Government. Apart from this, another way in which the powers of the CCI have been diluted is that the amendment provides for the formation of a governing body that would include members appointed by the Central Government. Thu, though there is a need to govern the digital landscape with respect to mergers of big data companies, it is important that the CCI is provided with more powers through the new amendments rather than dilution of its powers.

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