Millennium Post

Compat backs private cos, scraps Rs 258-cr fine on Jet, IndiGo, SpiceJet

In a relief for Jet Airways, IndiGo and SpiceJet, the Competition Appellate Tribunal on Monday set aside Rs 258-crore penalty imposed on them and directed CCI to pass a fresh order.

Competition Commission of India (CCI) in November had penalised the carriers for alleged cartelisation in fixing fuel surcharge on air cargo.

Jet Airways was fined Rs 151.69 crore while the penalties on InterGlobe Aviation and SpiceJet were Rs 63.74 crore and Rs 42.48 crore, respectively. These fines were stayed by the tribunal in February.

In a 95-page order, Compat set aside the CCI order and remanded the matter back to the regulator to pass a fresh order. 

The tribunal said CCI's failure to give notice to the appellants incorporating the reasons of its disagreement with the conclusions recorded by the joint Director General has violated principles of natural justice. Besides, it noted that not giving the appellants "effective opportunity to show that they had not formed any cartel for jacking-up fuel surcharge from time to time has not only resulted in gross violation of principles of natural justice, but has also caused prejudice to them".

CCI's order last year came after its investigation arm Director General (DG) conducted a detailed inquiry. Asking CCI to reconsider the Joint DG's report and take appropriate decision, the tribunal said if the commission disagrees with those findings, then reasons should be indicated for the same.

In addition, the regulator has been asked to issue notices to the parties "incorporating the reasons of disagreement and give them opportunity to file their replies/ objections," the order said.

After receiving the replies/objections the tribunal said the Commission should hear them and pass an order.
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