Bombay High Court Quashes CCI’s Prima Facie Order against Star, Sony TV

On October 16, 2019, the Bombay High Court (‘BHC’) set aside an order issued by the CCI under Section 26(1) of the Act against Star India Private Limited (‘Star’) and Sony Pictures Network India Private Limited (‘Sony’).[1]  On July 27, 2018, the CCI, in its prima facie order held that Sony and Star may have engaged in price discrimination against television channel distributor Noida Software Technology Park Limited (‘CCI Order’). Sony and Star appealed to BHC insisting that the CCI could not issue such an order.

The BHC relied on the decision issued by Supreme Court of India (‘SC’) in CCI v Bharti Airtel[2] (‘Airtel Decision’), where the SC noted that unless the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (‘TRAI’) finds fault with the conduct of a service provider, CCI cannot order investigation, despite the overlap between TRAI and CCI’s jurisdiction. Each of the issues raised in the Airtel Decision related to in-personam disputes between the relevant parties. Therefore, it is evidence that the principles of law laid down in the Airtel Decision apply to in-personam disputes. The BHC also noted that the CCI Order lacked the basic finding of an AAEC caused by Sony and Star, and therefore could not be sustained. Finally, with respect to BHC’s jurisdiction to review the CCI Order, BHC stated that writ petitions filed against the CCI Order were maintainable, and that BHC had the jurisdiction to review and set aside the CCI Order.

[1] W.P. No. 9175 of 2018, Judgement dated October 16 , 2019
[2] (2019) 2 SCC 521

Published In:Inter Alia Special Edition- Competition Law - January 2020 [ English
Date: January 17, 2020