CCI Penalizes Usha International Ltd. and Others for Engaging in Bid-Rigging and Cartel Conduct

On March 17, 2021, CCI accepted the allegations of bid-rigging and cartel conduct against Usha International Ltd. (‘OP-1’), M/s Klassy Computers (‘OP-2’), M/s Nayan Agencies (‘OP-3’), M/s Jawahar Brothers (‘OP-4’) and Pune Zilla Parishad (‘OP-5’) ( ‘OPs’).[1]

The informant had alleged that a tender invited by OP-5 for procurement of picofall-cum-sewing machine, as part of a social welfare scheme of the Government of Maharashtra, was manipulated in favour of OP-1, and that the bids submitted by OP-2 to OP-4 were identical. It alleged that OP-1 indulged in bid-rigging by cartelizing with OP-2 to OP-5.

Based on the evidence collected by the Director General (‘DG’), CCI found parallel conduct by OP-2, OP-3, and OP-4 in quoting similar prices.  It also found additional evidence such as IP addresses, call data records, and close coordination in other tenders, to conclude that the bidding process was rigged.

CCI noted that collusion in public procurements not only defeats the tendering process but also has an adverse impact on the exchequer. It directed the infringing OPs to cease-and-desist from indulging in similar practices and imposed a penalty on OP-2 – OP-4 of INR 10,00,000. It also imposed a penalty of INR 10,000 on each of the individuals of OP-4 identified by the DG as being responsible for the conduct in terms of the provisions of Section 48 of the Competition Act, 2002 (‘Act’).

[1] Case No. 90 of 2016, Order dated March 17, 2021

Published In:Inter Alia Special Edititon - Competition Law - April 2021 [ English
Date: April 29, 2021