Lakshmikumaran & Sridharan (New Delhi)

Charanya Lakshmikumaran

Lakshmikumaran & Sridharan (New Delhi)
Lawyer (Partner)

Charanya Lakshmikumaran is a Partner is the Commercial and Regulatory disputes practice at Lakshmikumaran & Sridharan. She is also an Advocate-on-Record designated by the Supreme Court of India (Supreme Court). Charanya has over a decade of experience working in the fields of competition law, intellectual property, taxation and regulatory litigation. She has previously worked in the chambers of the Attorney General of India. Charanya regularly appears before the Supreme Court and focuses on competition and regulatory litigation before the various High Courts and tribunals. She has represented domestic and international clients in complex behavioural cases relating to cartels and abuse of dominance. Some of her key clients operate in the e-commerce, automobile, railway equipment manufacturing, coal, packaging and auto-components sectors. The distinguishing attribute of Charanya’s practice is the wide range of subject matters she handles. Some of the notable, precedent setting cases that she has worked on include, the Right to Privacy as a fundamental right in the Aadhaar dispute, right to privilege in reports of the Parliamentary Standing Committee, income tax dispute regarding service permanent establishments, public interest litigation in the over USD 2 billion bank fraud investigation against Nirav Modi, challenge to the Goods & Services Tax compensation cess.

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Lakshmikumaran & Sridharan (New Delhi)
Lakshmikumaran & Sridharan (New Delhi)
Lakshmikumaran & Sridharan (New Delhi)
Lakshmikumaran & Sridharan (New Delhi)

Articles

2220 Bulletin

Neelambera Sandeepan, Charanya Lakshmikumaran, Rishabh Chopra, L. Badri Narayanan, Aditya Bhattacharya The Indian Competition Authority opens an investigation into potential anti-competitive conduct by a company engaged in the manufacturing and sale of commercial vehicles (Tata Motors)

180

KEY POINTS Even if there is a delay in the filing of information on behalf of the informants, the Act does not envisage any period of limitation as inquiries conducted by CCI are proceedings in rem. There can be no limitation period in competition law as in a changing and evolving market (...)

Neelambera Sandeepan, Charanya Lakshmikumaran, Rishabh Chopra, L. Badri Narayanan, Aditya Bhattacharya The Indian Competition Authority dismisses a complaint against two regional development authorities and clarifies that a statutory body exercising economic functions cannot be guilty of abuse of dominance for policy-making decisions which apply equally to all market participants (Greater Noida Industrial Development Authority / New Okhla Industrial Development Authority)

336

KEY POINTS A statutory body exercising economic functions can not be said to have abused its dominant position in a particular relevant market for any decisions taken as part of the policy-making process, which apply equally to all market participants. BRIEF FACTS Three separate informations (...)

Neelambera Sandeepan, Charanya Lakshmikumaran, Rishabh Chopra The Delhi High Court upholds the Competition Authority’s order of directing an investigation into the privacy policy rolled out by a Big Tech company (WhatsApp)

340

KEY POINTS Mere pendency of some issues before the Hon’ble Supreme Court of India (“Supreme Court”), or any of the High Courts does not necessarily bar CCI from exercising jurisdiction otherwise vested with it under the Act. BRIEF FACTS Whatsapp LLC (“WhatsApp”) is the proprietor of the popular (...)

Neelambera Sandeepan, Charanya Lakshmikumaran, Rishabh Chopra, L. Badri Narayanan, Aditya Bhattacharya The Indian Competition Authority dismisses antitrust complaint against a paint manufacturer because simply filing a criminal complaint against its competitor is not considered abuse of dominance (Asian Paints)

187

KEY POINTS Filing a criminal complaint against another enterprise in the same sector cannot be said to have been done with a view to oust competition from the relevant market in the absence of any additional evidence to indicate contraventions of Section 3 and/or 4 of the Act. BRIEF FACTS (...)

Neelambera Sandeepan, Charanya Lakshmikumaran, Rishabh Chopra, L. Badri Narayanan, Aditya Bhattacharya The Indian Competition Authority dismisses complaints against the State of Tamil Nadu’s road department on an alleged anticompetitive tender process because sufficient bids were received and the procurement process was found to benefit both the procurer and the public (Trichy Superintendent Engineer of Highways Department)

306

KEY POINTS The consumer, based on his requirements / commercial considerations, has the freedom to specify and choose the kind of service, machineries, timelines, mode, and the manner in which it requires the same, provided that no provision of the Act is violated. The public procurement (...)

Neelambera Sandeepan, Charanya Lakshmikumaran, Rishabh Chopra, L. Badri Narayanan, Aditya Bhattacharya The Indian Competition Authority finds an abuse of dominance in the market for wholesale procurement of branded alcoholic beverages within the State of Uttarakhand (International Spirits and Wines Association of India / Uttarakhand Agricultural Produce Marketing Board)

184

KEY POINTS Cutting off supply/distribution of particular brands, thereby allowing market access to only a dominant entity leads to abuse of its dominant position by such entity. An effective push to competition happens when the efficiency of slower-moving products is enhanced such that a (...)

L. Badri Narayanan, Charanya Lakshmikumaran, Neelambera Sandeepan, Aditya Bhattacharya, Rishabh Chopra The Indian Competition Authority initiates an investigation into a Big Tech company’s new privacy policy and user agreement that do not let users opt out (WhatsApp)

4

KEY POINTS CCI is empowered to initiate an investigation into any conduct which may contravene the provisions of the Act if the CCI knows that such conduct is about to be committed. The CCI is obligated to prevent practices from having an adverse effect on competition. BRIEF FACTS CCI (...)

L. Badri Narayanan, Charanya Lakshmikumaran, Neelambera Sandeepan, Aditya Bhattacharya, Rishabh Chopra The Indian Competition Authority dismisses allegations of cartelization within a professional association in the corrugated box manufacturing industry (Gujarat Paper Mills Association / Indian Corrugated Case Manufacturers’ Association)

4

KEY POINTS A no presumption of appreciable adverse effect on competition (“AAEC”) cannot arise without first establishing the existence of an agreement in terms of the provisions Act. BRIEF FACTS An information was filed before CCI by the Gujarat Paper Mills Associations (“GPMA / Informant”), (...)

L. Badri Narayanan, Charanya Lakshmikumaran, Neelambera Sandeepan, Aditya Bhattacharya, Rishabh Chopra The Indian Competition Authority finds evidence of and imposes a fine for bid-rigging by three sewing machine suppliers in public procurement for Picofall-cum-Sewing Machines (Klassy Computers / Nayan Agencies / Jawahar Brothers)

26

KEY POINTS (i) Although CCI and the DG have the powers to investigate the representatives of the tenderer/procurer to understand and ascertain the tender design, tendering mechanism including the eligibility of the bidders in terms of tender conditions by requisitioning the relevant records. (...)

L. Badri Narayanan, Charanya Lakshmikumaran, Neelambera Sandeepan, Aditya Bhattacharya, Rishabh Chopra The Indian Competition Authority grants interim relief, ordering online travel agencies to re-list hotel properties on certain platforms (MMT-Go / Treebo / FabHotels)

26

KEY POINTS (i) In deciding applications for interim relief under Section 33 of the Act, CCI must form a higher degree of satisfaction than the prima facie requirements under Section 26(1) of the Act. (ii) Denial of market access need not be complete or absolute in nature to result in an (...)

L. Badri Narayanan, Charanya Lakshmikumaran, Neelambera Sandeepan, Aditya Bhattacharya, Rishabh Chopra The Indian Competition Authority fines a national publishing association for restricting its members’ maximum discounts and participation in procurement advertisements (Federation of Publishers’ and Booksellers’ Associations in India)

23

KEY POINTS The practice of restricting the maximum discount and issuing advisories for members to not participate in certain procurement advertisements amounts to anti-competitive conduct, especially if coercive action is taken by the governing body to ensure adherence by its members. BRIEF (...)

L. Badri Narayanan, Charanya Lakshmikumaran, Neelambera Sandeepan, Aditya Bhattacharya, Rishabh Chopra The Indian Competition Authority orders closure of an investigation into the alleged cartelization in the airlines industry because the observed price parallelism was not proven to have occurred through cartelization (Jet Airways / Indigo / Spice Jet / Go Air / Air India)

24

KEY POINTS Mere price parallelism does not amount to cartelization, if: (i) the market prices have fluctuated, at times with significant margins, (ii) new players are easily able to establish themselves; (iii) all players offer more or less similar kinds of services, and (iv) the prices depend (...)

L. Badri Narayanan, Charanya Lakshmikumaran, Neelambera Sandeepan, Aditya Bhattacharya, Rishabh Chopra The Indian Competition Authority finds upon further investigation no evidence of bid-rigging in tenders issued by the Government Department of Printing for the services of printing, packing and dispatch of confidential documents (Chandraprabhu / Saraswati Offset Printers / United India Tradex)

26

KEY POINTS (i) The mere fact that participants to a tender have common directors/shareholders is not sufficient evidence to return a finding that the parties are engaging in bid-rigging. (ii) Commercial transactions between related parties, such as sale/purchase of goods and loan exchanges, (...)

L. Badri Narayanan, Charanya Lakshmikumaran, Neelambera Sandeepan, Aditya Bhattacharya, Rishabh Chopra The Indian Competition Authority dismisses allegations of abuse of dominance by a Delhi based mall developer for absence of dominance in the relevant market (Buildwell / Classic Care Utilities)

24

KEY POINTS An inquiry into whether certain practices by a firm amount to abuse is not required to be undertaken when the concerned firm does not hold a dominant position in the relevant market by virtue of there being other prominent firms within the relevant market that provide the same (...)

L. Badri Narayanan, Charanya Lakshmikumaran, Neelambera Sandeepan, Aditya Bhattacharya, Rishabh Chopra The Indian Competition Authority dismisses allegations of abuse of dominance against a Big Tech company for integrating a video calling app into its email app, because email users were not forced to use the video app (Google Meet)

27

KEY POINTS Merely adding more functionality to an internet-based app in the name of product improvement and enhancing benefit to consumers would not amount to leveraging dominance if the users are not compelled to utilize the new features to the exclusion of all other services offering similar (...)

L. Badri Narayanan, Charanya Lakshmikumaran, Neelambera Sandeepan, Aditya Bhattacharya, Rishabh Chopra The Indian Competition Authority dismisses allegations of cartelization and abuse of dominance by a provider of home loan services (ICICI Bank)

24

KEY POINTS Existence of large number of players in the home loan market shows that ICICI Bank (“ICICI”) cannot operate independently in the market and, hence cannot be considered to be in a position of dominance in the relevant market. In the absence of any evidence indicating an agreement or (...)

L. Badri Narayanan, Charanya Lakshmikumaran, Neelambera Sandeepan, Aditya Bhattacharya, Rishabh Chopra The Indian Competition Authority dismisses allegations of abuse of dominance by a reinsurance company as its client insurance companies retain the freedom to decide their premium rates as well as their reinsurer under national law (Automotive Tyres Manufacturers Association / General Insurance Corporation of India)

28

KEY POINTS The markets for insurance and reinsurance exist as separate markets and insurance companies have the commercial freedom to price their policies as they deem fit according to the market conditions and decisions taken in the reinsurance market do not place any restriction on insurance (...)

L. Badri Narayanan, Charanya Lakshmikumaran, Neelambera Sandeepan, Aditya Bhattacharya, Rishabh Chopra The Indian Competition Authority holds that the national statutory body in charge of carrying out regulatory functions in respect of the legal profession as well as legal education is not an ‘enterprise’ within the definition of the competition law (Bar Council of India)

24

KEY POINTS An entity falls within the definition of the term ‘enterprise’ only if it is engaged in any economic and commercial activity specified within Section 2 (h) of the Act. BRIEF FACTS An information was filed before CCI alleging contravention of the provisions of Section 4 of the Act by (...)

L. Badri Narayanan, Charanya Lakshmikumaran, Neelambera Sandeepan, Aditya Bhattacharya, Rishabh Chopra The Indian Competition Authority approves a merger between two retailers active in the sales of apparel, footwear and accessories but forbids both companies from entering into an exclusive distribution agreement for the online sale of certain branded products (Aditya Birla Fashion and Retail / Flipkart Investments)

5

Aditya Birla Fashion and Retail Ltd. (“ABFRL / Target”) is a public limited company incorporated under the Companies Act, 1956. ABFRL is engaged in the business of manufacturing and retailing branded apparels, footwear and accessories, through its retail stores, multi-brand outlets, departmental (...)

L. Badri Narayanan, Charanya Lakshmikumaran, Neelambera Sandeepan, Aditya Bhattacharya, Rishabh Chopra The Indian Competition Authority approves a merger between a healthcare company and a hospital network as the operation does not appear to raise any competition concerns (Manipal Health Enterprises / Columbia Asia Hospitals)

4

Manipal Health Enterprises Private Ltd. (“MHEPL / Acquirer”) is part of the Manipal Educational and Medical Group which operates a network of hospitals providing multi-speciality care. Manipal Group has 15 hospitals spread across 7 cities in India under the brand name ‘Manipal Hospitals’. Outside (...)

L. Badri Narayanan, Charanya Lakshmikumaran, Neelambera Sandeepan, Aditya Bhattacharya, Rishabh Chopra The Indian Competition Authority approves a merger between two holding companies active in the power generation sector (Greenko Energy Holdings / Orix)

3

Greenko Energy Holdings (“GEH / Party No. 1”) is a company limited by shares incorporated in Mauritius, engaged principally in the business activity of investment holding. It is the holding company of the Greenko Group of Companies (“Greenko”). GEH has an Indian subsidiary which is primarily (...)

L. Badri Narayanan, Charanya Lakshmikumaran, Neelambera Sandeepan, Aditya Bhattacharya, Rishabh Chopra The Indian Competition Authority launches an investigation into allegations of abuse of dominance by a Big Tech company in the Android app store market (Google)

6

KEY POINTS Even in cases where an information is filed anonymously before the Competition Commission of India (“CCI”), it is within the powers of the Director General (“DG”) to cross-examine the informant; Googles’ market position in the android app market provides it with a significant market (...)

Neelambera Sandeepan, Charanya Lakshmikumaran, Rishabh Chopra The Indian Competition Authority launches an investigation into two major e-commerce platforms for alleged vertical agreements in the sale of smartphones (Amazon / Cloudtail India)

169

Looking into the alleged violation of Competition Act based on four alleged practices, namely, exclusive launch of mobile phones, preferred sellers on the marketplaces, deep discounting and preferential listing/promotion of private labels, being followed by two major e-commerce platforms, the (...)

Charanya Lakshmikumaran, Neelambera Sandeepan The Indian Competition Authority issues for the second time in a cartelization case a cease and desist order with no penalty against 10 suppliers of brake blocks for alleged bid-rigging (Chief Materials Manager, South Eastern Railway / Hindustan Composites)

101

Two of the final orders recently pronounced by the CCI finding parties in violation of the cartel and bid-rigging provisions of the Competition Act, 2002 (“Act”) have come as a surprise to many. While the CCI found clinching evidence regarding the existence of an agreement to cartelize and rig (...)

Charanya Lakshmikumaran, Neelambera Sandeepan The Indian Competition Authority issues for the first time in a cartelization case a cease and desist order with no penalty against 4 industrial and automotive bearings manufacturers (Schaeffler / SKF / NEI / Tata)

35

Two of the final orders recently pronounced by the CCI finding parties in violation of the cartel and bid-rigging provisions of the Competition Act, 2002 (“Act”) have come as a surprise to many. While the CCI found clinching evidence regarding the existence of an agreement to cartelize and rig (...)

Charanya Lakshmikumaran, Neelambera Sandeepan, L. Badri Narayanan, Aditya Bhattacharya The Indian Competition Authority fines the only national manufacturer of Viscose Staple Fiber for abusing its dominant position by practicing price discrimination without objective justification (Grasim Industries / Association of Man Made Fibre Industry of India)

25

Grasim Industries fined INR 302 crore for abusing its dominant position in the market for Viscose Staple Fiber (“VSF”) by the CCI* Key points A dominant entity has a special and differential obligation and ought to behave as a responsible corporate citizen. Discriminatory prices for similarly (...)

Charanya Lakshmikumaran The Indian National Company Law Appellate Tribunal upholds the Competition Authority’s order against an American electronic payment supplier for abusing its dominant position in the markets for POS terminals and electronic ticketing machines (Verifone)

24

NCLAT upholds CCI’s orders against Verifone for abuse of dominance in the market for Point of Sale (“POS”) terminals and Electronic Ticketing Machines (“ETM”) in India.* Key points Verifone abused its position of dominance in the market for POS and ETM by imposing restrictive conditions within the (...)

Charanya Lakshmikumaran, Neelambera Sandeepan The Indian National Company Law Appellate Tribunal upholds the Competition Authority’s orders against 2 movie associations for concerted efforts to stop a competing association from working in the Malayalam film industry (Association of Malayalam Movie Artists / Federation of Kerala / Malayalam Artists and Cine Technicians Association)

24

Key points While there was no explicit agreement produced before CCI showing concerted actions by AMMA and FEFKA to ban Malayalam Artists and Cine Technicians Association’ (“MACTA”) Federation, the CCI relied upon documents, witness-statements and market analysis to show that AMMA and FEFKA had (...)

Charanya Lakshmikumaran, Neelambera Sandeepan, L. Badri Narayanan, Aditya Bhattacharya The Indian National Company Law Appellate Tribunal upholds the Competition Authority’s order dismissing allegations of abuse of dominance in the market for industrial bearings (Asmi / SKF)

31

KEY POINTS Given that the conduct related to a period prior to May 20, 2009, the CCI had no jurisdiction to investigation. Further, during the concerned period, none of the players in the relevant market enjoyed a position of strength for a long duration. Even thereafter, in 2015-16, domestic (...)

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