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Frontlist | CCI imposes Rs 4 lakh penalty on Indian publishers and booksellers association

Frontlist | CCI imposes Rs 4 lakh penalty on Indian publishers and booksellers association
on Feb 25, 2021
Frontlist | CCI imposes Rs 4 lakh penalty on Indian publishers and booksellers association
The Competition Commission of India (CCI) has slapped a total penalty of Rs 4 lakh on the Federation of Publishers and Booksellers Association in India (FPBAI) and two individuals for indulging in anti competitive practices. Besides, FPBAI and individuals – Sunil Sachdev and S C Sethi – have also been directed to cease and desist from indulging into any conduct/ practice, which has been found in the present order to be in contravention of the provisions of Section 3 of the Act. Section 3 in the Competition Act pertains to anti-competition agreement. The case pertained to allegations that a committee named Good Offices Committee (GOC) -- constituted by FPBAI was acting beyond its mandate, took upon itself the power to issue directions to all the members who deal in print journals and e-resources, to not give discounts on the publishers'' prices to the Indian subscribers. Also, the direction of GOC, issued under the mandate of FPBAI, not to offer discounts beyond is illegal and violative of the provisions of the Act having adverse effect on competition in India. As per the informant, the concerted collusive and coercive activities of FPBAI, which is an ''association of enterprises'', have prevented price competition between one vendor and the other. The same has resulted in fixation of selling prices as prices are not allowed to be determined by independent market forces. An investigation conducted by DG revealed that by restricting discounts, FPBAI indirectly determined sale prices of books, journals, sold by FPBAI members which is in contravention of the provisions of competition Act. Also, by issuing ''advisories'' directing members to refrain from participating in procurement advertisements, which have conditions not in accord with the conditions expected by FPBAI, it indirectly limited and controlled supply of books, journals in the market for supply of books, e-resources and print journals in India. The commission, therefore, noted that since the information filed against GOC and not against FPBAI, but GOC does not seem to be a separate legal entity, but rather only a Committee formed and working under the aegis of FPBAI, in the present matter, FPBAI be considered as the ''Opposite Party'' instead of GOC of FPBAI. The CCI in its 25-page order observed that the practices of FPBAI of discount control policy and issuing ''advisories'' directing members to not participate in certain procurement advertisements, were not merely recommendatory in nature, but rather it coerced its members to abide by the same by issuing notices/ seeking explanations, for violating such policy and advisories. Further, it noted that FPBAI has been unable to satisfactorily provide to the regulator any reasonable justification for adopting such coercive practices. It also said that FPBAI has placed nothing on record before the commission which shows that there was any relation between controlling discounts, and controlling such alleged malpractices. ....the Commission holds FPBAI guilty of contravention of the provisions of Section 3.... Act. the order noted. The former and present presidents of FPBAI and chairman of GOC, Sachdev and Sethi, respectively, are also liable for the violations. Accordingly, a Rs 2 lakh fine has been imposed on FPBAI and Rs 1 lakh each has been imposed on the individuals, directing them to deposit the respective penalty amounts within 60 days of the receipt of this order. PTI AST HRS hrs Read More: Muhammad Ali as you’ve never seen him Source: Outlook India

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