CCI Dismisses Allegations against Royal Western Turf Club India Limited

On January 15, 2019, CCI dismissed information filed by Mr. Habib Rajmohamad Patel (‘Informant’) against Chairman/Secretary, Royal Western Turf Club India Ltd. (‘RWTCIL/ OP’) alleging violation of Section 3 and Section 4 of the Competition Act. [1]

The Informant alleged that the OP controlled horse racing activity and imposed unfair and discriminatory conditions for getting results in their favour. The RWTCIL comprises three committees i.e., (i) Management Committee; (ii) Stewards of the Club; and (iii) Board of Appeal. It was alleged that members of these committees were race horse owners, stud farm owners or breeders having a direct interest in the horse races. Without RWITCL’s prior approval, no person could own any race horse, train any horse or ride any horse. The Stewards of the Club could revoke or suspend the approved race horse owners and levied fines if any jockey/ horse owner/ trainer violated racing rules that ultimately caused loss to racing punters. The approval of licenses was done by the seven members of Managing Committee having vested interest. The members of Board of Appeal deciding contentious issues were horse owners themselves.

The OP argued that horse racing was regulated under Bombay Race Course Licensing Act, 1912 and racing licenses are typically granted for a year. The terms and conditions for these licenses were stringent and had to be adhered to. There were additional checks and balances in place to govern horse racing. The objections regarding any race event are taken up under close public vigilance and there was no scope for foul play. It was also argued that betting for horse racing was legalized in India after obtaining a license under the abovementioned statute.[2]

CCI noted that the allegations were vague and lacked evidence. With respect to Section 3 allegations i.e. allegations with respect to anti-competitive agreements, the Informant did not provide evidence of any agreement. The Section 4 allegations i.e. allegations regarding abuse of dominance were made without defining any relevant market. CCI defined the market as ‘market for organization of horse races by turf clubs in India’. In the said market, CCI assessed whether OP was in dominant position. However, it was found that OP had a market share of only 23%. Therefore, OP was not found to be dominant and CCI concluded that there was no contravention of Section 3 or 4 of the Competition Act and the complaint was dismissed.

[1]       Case No. 40 of 2018
[2]       Dr. K R Lakshmanan v. State of Tamil Nadu, AIR 1996 SC 1153

Published In:Inter Alia Special Edition- Competition Law - March 2019 [ English
Date: March 1, 2019