CCI Dismisses Allegations of Abuse of Dominance against Ashiana Housing Limited

On August 26, 2020, CCI passed an order dismissing the information filed by Mr. Devinder Sharma (a resident of a retirement home build by Ashiana Housing) against Ashiana Housing Limited (‘Ashiana Housing’) and Ashiana Maintenance Service LLP (‘Ashiana Maintenance’) alleging a contravention of provisions of Section 4 of the Act.[1]

The informant alleged that Ashiana Housing is the only retirement homes complex in Lavasa, Pune and is, therefore, a dominant player in the ‘market for the provision of services for development and sale of retirement homes including residential units and apartments in Lavasa’. The informant further alleged that Ashiana Housing abused its dominant position by (a) imposing unfair terms and conditions in the sub-lease agreement by indulging in unauthorized use of the common area; (b) having a discretionary right to make alterations/carry out additional construction in all places of Ashiana Utsav (i.e. retirement housing complex of Ashiana Housing); (c) unauthorized use of the common area for housing construction employees which creates unhygienic conditions and adversely affect the privacy of the senior citizens, apart from being a health concern given the COVID 19 pandemic; (e) not forming a residential association in breach of the sub-lease agreements; and (f) charging high maintenance fee to the residents. The informant relied on CCI’s previous decisions in Belaire Owner Association v. DLF Limited and others[2], Naveen Kataria v. Jaiprakash Associates Limited[3] to establish jurisdiction for these allegations.

While defining the relevant market, CCI noted that retirement homes form a separate category of residential units as they are equipped with distinguishing features designed for senior citizens such as (a) unique doorknobs; (b) handrails in bathrooms; and (c) infrastructure with wheelchair access etc. CCI further noted that a consumer intending to buy a retirement home in Pune would not consider any other retirement homes in any other area outside Pune. Accordingly, CCI delineated the relevant market as the ‘market for provision of services of development and sale of retirement homes in the form of residential flats in Pune district’.

CCI noted that various players including Paranjpe Schemes Limited, Vascon Engineers Private Limited, Manisha Constructions, and Gagan Properties operated in this market. Accordingly, CCI concluded that Ashiana Housing is not dominant in the relevant market and therefore, the question of abuse does not arise.

CCI accordingly dismissing all the allegations and passed a closure order under Section 26(2) of the Act.

 

[1] Case No. 22 of 2020, Order dated August 26, 2020.

[2] Case No. 19 of 2010, Order dated January 3, 2013.

[3] Case No. 99 of 2014, Order dated August 9, 2019.

Published In:Inter Alia Special Edititon - Competition Law - October 2020 [ English
Date: October 19, 2020