Competition Commission of India, by way of its order dated June 28, 2016 held that M/s Ruchi Soya Industries Ltd. ,M/s Betul Oils Ltdand M/s Ganganagar Commodity Ltd. were not in contravention of the provisions of sections 3 and 4 of the Act as alleged by Shri Nirmal Kumar Manshani (Informant). The Informant stated that the conduct of the Opposite Parties appeared to be that of a cartel with regard to trading of Guar Seeds and Guar Gum in various commodity exchanges in India. The Informant alleged that the OPs have inflated the prices of Guar Seeds and Guar Gum by artificially increasing the demand through self-trading, circular trading etc. which caused huge loss to traders, hedgers and farmers.
Investigation report by Director General (‘DG’), concluded that OPs contravened the provisions of section 3(3)(a) and 3(3)(b) read with section 3(1) of the Act on the basis of various evidence collected like calculation sheet depicting distribution of profits, e-mail exchanged between M/s Ruchi Soya Industries Ltd. and M/s Betul Oils Ltd and, evidence of a common employee being entrusted to manage the guar related business activities of both the groups establishing meeting of minds between the two groups. Allegations against M/s Ganganagar Commodity Ltd could not be substantiated by facts and evidence gathered during investigation.
The CCI observed that though there appeared to be an agreement indicating collusion or coordination between OPs that was not decisive of contravention of the provisions of the Competition Act unless such agreement or arrangement determines the prices of the commodity in question or otherwise controls/ limits the supplies thereof etc. The appreciable adverse effect arising or likely to arise out of such conduct needs to be shown in the markets in India particularly when the parties strenuously rebut the statutory presumption. The Commission noted that it was not the quantity but the quality of evidence that matters. It was a time- honored principle that evidence must be weighed and not counted. The test is whether the evidence is cogent, credible and trustworthy or otherwise. The CCI thus noted that mere collusion or coordination per se will not be sufficient to reach a finding of contravention of the provisions of Section 3(1) read with Section 3(3) of the Competition Act. (Source: Order dated June 28, 2016. For full text see CCI website- www.cci.gov.in )