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Competition Commission dismisses complaint against Bar Council of India

What Happened ? The Competition Commission of India (CCI) in re: Thupili Raveendra Babu v. Bar Council of India and Ors. has dismissed a complaint alleging that the Bar Council of India (BCI) abused its dominant position by imposing a maximum age limit for admissions into legal education.

Facts | The order came in pursuance of the complaint filed by Mr. Thupili Raveendra Babu who aspired to pursue law after his retirement. The complainant invoked Clause 28 of the Rules of Legal Education, 2008 which bars candidates above 30 years of age from pursuing legal education.

The allegation | It was alleged that the BCI has acted in contravention of Section 4 of the Competititon Act, by abusing its quintessential position of controlling legal education and practice in India thereby imposing barriers to new entrants in legal profession.

Relevant Legal Provisions: The legal provisions and statutes relevant to the present controversy are as follows:

1.Section 2(h) of the Competition Act, 2002;

2.Section 4 of the Competition Act, 2002;

3.Section 19(1)(a) of the Competition Act, 2002;

4.Section 26(2) of the Competition Act, 2002;

5.Section 33 of the Competition Act, 2002

6.Section 4 of the Advocates Act, 1961;

7.Section 7 of the Advocates Act, 1961;

8.Section 49 of the Advocates Act, 1961;

9.Clause 28 of the Rules of Legal Education, 2008

What CCI said ? CCI rejected the complaint and stated that in order to sustain allegations the BCI must fall within the ambit of definition of ‘enterprise’ under Section 2(h) of the Competition Act.

Point to note | It was observed that the functions carried out by BCI are regulatory in nature in respect of the legal profession, therefore, it cannot be termed as an enterprise.

It further reiterated its order in Dilip Modwil case, wherein, it was held that, “for an entity to qualify as an enterprise, it must be engaged in commercial and economic activities and regulatory functions are not amenable to the jurisdiction of the commission”.

Conclusion | Thus, the commission concluded that while discharging regulatory functions BCI cannot be said to be an enterprise and consequently, the allegations made in relation to discharge of such functions which appears to be non-economic in nature, do not make a prima facie case under Section 4 of the Competition Act.

Related Case Laws: re: Dilip Modwil and Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority (IRDA) (2014)

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