India’s Competition Appellate Tribunal has set aside the findings of the fair trade regulator CCI, which had found that the International Air Transport Association (IATA) and its Indian affiliate had not violated competition norms and directed a fresh probe into the issues. The fresh investigation into IATA’s implementation of the Cargo Accounts Settlement System (CASS) is a long running issue in India and has been vigorously opposed by the Air Cargo Agents Association of India (ACAAI).
In its latest ruling, the Tribunal allowed an appeal by ACAAI and has directed CCI’s probe unit director general to conduct a fresh probe into the allegations of abuse of dominance while determining the rate of cargo agents’ commission.
A two-member bench of Competition Appellate Tribunal (COMPAT) observed as a result of its investigation that the director general committed “serious illegality by not recording a finding on the allegation of abuse of dominant position” of IATA and International Air Transport Association (India) Private Ltd., according to an Economic Times report.
“In the result, the appeal is allowed. The impugned order is set aside and the DG is directed to conduct fresh investigation into the allegations levelled by the appellant against the respondents and submit a report to the Commission … within a period of 60 days from the date of receipt of this order,” said a COMPAT bench headed by chairman Justice G S Singhvi.
It further said: “If the DG is unable to submit fresh investigation report within sixty days, then he may approach the Commission for extension of time for submission of the fresh investigation report”.
In its strongly worded 72-page order, the COMPAT bench observed that CCI’s order “is liable to be set aside because the Commission failed to take cognisance and decide the plea raised by the appellant in the context of the said illegality committed by the DG”.