A brief order passed on Friday said: “Appeals admitted. The interim orders that have been passed by the Tribunal in these cases will continue in the meantime.”
NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court on Friday agreed to examine at length a plea by major cement makers on cartelisation charges levelled against them by real estate developers and upheld by the Competition Commission of India (CCI).
A bench of Justices Fali S Nariman and Navin Sinha, however, said interim orders would continue, indicating that the companies would have to deposit 10% of their fine amounts. “The interim orders that have been passed by the tribunal in these cases will continue in the meantime,” the bench said.
CCI had held 10 major cement companies guilty of the charge levelled by Builders’ Association of India and fined them more than Rs 6,700 crore at the rate of 0.5% of their net turnover. The cement makers had first approached the National Company Law Appellate Tribunal (NCLAT), but the tribunal dismissed their plea against the CCI finding on July 25.
The cement companies that moved the top court include India Cements, Ramco Cements, Nuvoco Vistas Corporation, Ambuja Cement, ACC, Jaiprakash Associates, Century Textiles and Industries, and UltraTech Cement.
The case began in 2010 when the builders accused Cement Manufacturers Association of ganging up to manipulate cement prices, leading to project costs soaring, for which CCI, in 2012, slapped a fine of Rs 6,300 crore for contravention of Sub-Section 3(3)(a) and 3(3)(b) of the Competition Act, 2002. Section 3 of the Competition Act, 2002, forbids anticompetitive agreements.
Competition Appellate Tribunal (Compat) — which ceased to exist in May last year following its merger with NCLAT — set aside this decision in December 2015, and remanded it back to CCI to decide again for violation of principles of natural justice. CCI then examined the issue again and confirmed its order in 2016. NCLAT upheld the penalty in July.