The Supreme Court of Pakistan has unanimously affirmed the statutory powers of the Competition Commission of Pakistan (CCP) in gathering information and conducting inquiries. The three-member bench, including former Chief Justice Umar Ata Bandial, Justice Mansoor Ali Shah, and Justice Ayesha A. Malik, issued this ruling.
The Supreme Court has clarified that there are no restrictions on CCP’s general regulatory authority to request information under Section 36 of the Competition Act, 2010. Undertakings are obliged to fully comply with CCP’s directives for providing information.
Furthermore, the court has determined that CCP is not obligated to provide detailed reasoning before initiating an inquiry. The court emphasized that initiating an inquiry under Section 37 of the Act is not considered an adverse action but rather a fact-finding process separate from show cause proceedings under Section 30 of the Act.
In 2020, CCP initiated an inquiry into cooking oil and ghee companies regarding ghee and cooking oil prices. Dalda Foods was the sole entity that challenged CCP’s actions in the Islamabad High Court. Dalda argued that CCP did not have sufficient grounds for the inquiry or the request for information. The Islamabad High Court had set aside CCP’s requests for information and the initiation of the inquiry, imposing exceptional requirements on CCP’s regulatory and inquiry powers. CCP subsequently challenged the High Court’s decision in the Supreme Court of Pakistan.
The Supreme Court, in upholding CCP’s appeal, has overturned these requirements, including the need to provide detailed reasoning to an undertaking when initiating an inquiry and to issue a reasoned order in this regard. Consequently, CCP’s stance and actions were affirmed in the Supreme Court’s judgment.