Competition Comm grapples with 40% vacant posts
The Competition Commission might have seen rise in the number of cases but it remains "extremely under-staffed" with over 40 per cent of the sanctioned posts remaining vacant.
The watchdog has the mandate to keep a tab on unfair business practices across sectors and has received more than 850 cases related to anti-competition conduct since being set up in 2009.
Coming under the Corporate Affairs Ministry, the Competition Commission of India (CCI) has 197 sanctioned posts.
The issue of staff crunch at the regulator has been flagged by the Standing Committee on Finance in its report on the Demands for Grants (2017-18) of the Corporate Affairs Ministry.
"Against the sanctioned strength of 197 posts for the CCI and the office of Director General, 114 officers are in position as on December 31, 2017," the report said.
The vacancy position has recently increased as a number of people on deputation have been recently relieved on completion of their tenure, it added.
At the Commission, the vacant positions relate to deputation, direct recruitment and promotion quota. In the case of DG, the vacancies pertain to deputation quota.
DG is the investigation arm of the regulator and cases where there is a prima-facie evidence of violation of competition norms are referred to it for a detailed probe.
"Considering its huge workload... the Commission is extremely under-staffed with only 114 officers in position as against the sanctioned strength of 197 posts," the panel said in the report tabled in the Parliament last week. Out of the 853 cases received by the CCI since 2009, the watchdog has taken decisions in 633 cases. Among the remaining ones, 134 cases are pending with the DG while 87 are under the consideration of the regulator, as per the Ministry.
As many as 156 cases have been pending for more than a year, the panel noted.
These figures are till January 31, 2017.
Citing the "huge number of pendency cases and the rising cases of anti-competitive practices", the panel has said the Ministry should provide the CCI with "skilled and efficient permanent work force".
The Ministry should move away from the practice of hiring people on deputation at the CCI so that there is continuity, the panel noted.