CCI Closes Suo Motu Investigation of Alleged Anticompetitive Conduct Against Taxi Unions of the State of Goa

On June 22, 2021, CCI closed the suo motu investigation initiated against South Goa Tourist Taxi Owners Association, North Goa Tourist Taxi Owners Association, Federation of Tourist Taxi Owners and Drivers Goa (‘OP-3’) and Centre for Responsible Tourism (collectively referred as ‘OPs’) as it did not find cogent reasons indicating anti-competitive conduct by them. This case was taken up by CCI suo motu against the OPs on the basis of newspaper reports and other sources regarding alleged concerted action by the OPs to prevent entry of app-based taxi aggregator companies in the State of Goa.[1]

In 2018, CCI directed the DG to investigate the matter with respect to the conduct of the OPs that restricted the entry of app-based taxi aggregators in the State of Goa, as the said conduct was: (a) restraining services based on technology and limiting competition; (b) technical development; and (c) limiting consumer choice, thereby violating provisions of Section 3(3)(b) read with Section 3(1) of the Act.

Based on the newspaper reports and depositions of the office bearers of the OPs, DG concluded that the OPs (except OP-3) had colluded to oppose the entry of app-based taxi aggregators in Goa and for this purpose used various tools such as strikes, protests, going off road, etc.

Taking a contrary view, CCI did not find any merit in the DG’s findings as it was mainly based on submissions of the OPs, third parties, publicly available information and various uncorroborated evidence. Further, CCI observed that the DG had failed to account for the OPs’ rationale for resorting to strikes. Finally, CCI failed to find any evidence to allow it to conclusively infer that the reason behind non-entry of app-based taxi aggregators such as Ola and Uber in the Goan market was due to the pressure of OPs. CCI also held that providing joint representation to the Government or meeting with head of political executive, raising grievances, cannot be said to violate the provisions of Act. In any event, there was no evidence placed on record to suggest that the OPs had colluded and given any joint representations to the State Government. On this basis, CCI dismissed the DG’s findings and disposed the matter.

 

[1] Case No. 02 of 2018, Order dated June 22, 2021

Published In:Inter Alia Special Edition - Competition Law - September 2021 [ English
Date: September 16, 2021