Cement firms lose cartel case
Calcutta: The National Company Law Appellate Tribunal (NCLAT) on Wednesday upheld a ruling of the Competition Commission of India (CCI) that slapped a Rs 6,700-crore penalty on 11 cement manufacturers and the Cement Manufacturers Association for alleged cartelisation.
A two-member NCLAT bench headed by chairperson Justice S.J. Mukhopadhaya dismissed a batch of petitions filed by the cement makers and did not interfere with the amount of penalty imposed by the CCI.
"We find no merit in these appeals. They are accordingly dismissed. All interlocutory applications filed in these appeals stand disposed of," the order said.
"So far as the quantum of penalty order is concerned, as we find that the commission has a mere minimum penalty, no interference is called for against the same," the order added.
The decision of the NCLAT, a setback for the manufacturers, comes at a time the industry is grappling with high input cost that is eating into their profits.
Roads and highways minister Nitin Gadkari had said last week that he was worried by cartelisation and that it was a reason for the government not being able to meet its goals on road-building.
The Competition Commission of India (CCI) had initially imposed a penalty of Rs 6,317-crore on 10 cement makers and the Cement Manufacturers' Association (CMA) for cartelisation in 2012.
ACC, Ambuja Cements, Binani Cement, Century Textiles, India Cements, JK Cements, Lafarge India, Madras Cements, UltraTech Cement and Jaiprakash Associates have been named in the order by the CCI. Through a separate order, a penalty of Rs 397.51 crore was imposed on Shree Cement.
The cement makers and the CMA had subsequently appealed to the tribunal against the regulator's orders that imposed a penalty on the firms based on the complaints received from the Builders Association of India.