CAT asks cement firms to pay Rs 630 cr fine

CAT asks cement firms to pay Rs 630 cr fine

The Competition Appellate Tribunal (CAT) on May 17 directed the 11 cement companies to pay 10 per cent of the penalty of Rs 6,307 crore imposed by the Competition Commission of India (CCI) for forming a cartel and colluding to charge higher prices from consumers.

The cement companies have to pay the 10 per cent amounting to Rs 630 crore within a month. The order was read out by the justice VS Sirpukar, Chairman of the tribunal, on an appeal filed by the cement companies against the penalty levied by the CCI on June 20, 2012. The order to levy a penalty had been passed following a probe by Director General (investigation) of the CCI on a complaint filed by the Builders Association of India (BAI) against the cement companies for indulging in unfair trade practice.

CCI found cement makers had violated the provisions of the Competition Act, 2002, which deals with anti-competitive contracts, including cartels. In its 2012 order, the CCI had imposed a fine on Aditya Birla Group's Ultratech Cements (Rs 1,175 crore), Ambuja Cements (Rs 1,164 crore) and ACC (Rs 1,148 crore). Other companies found guilty were Grasim Cements (now merged with Ultratech), Lafarge India, JK Cement, India Cements, Madras Cements, Century and Binani Cements. The fine was fixed at 50 per cent of their profit during 2009-10 and 2010-11.

The industry body Cement Manufacturers Association (CMA) was also fined Rs 73 lakh.

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