By Sagardeep Rathi, Pranjal Prateek, Ebaad Khan
In a case connected to the Competition Commission of India’s (CCI) cartel investigation in the conveyor belt market, an appellate bench of the Delhi High Court (Court) (LPA 607/2016; Judgment dated 24 May 2018) has confirmed a single judge bench judgment of the Court (WP(C) 11411 of 2015; Judgment dated 22 April 2016) which permitted officials of a company being investigated by the CCI to be accompanied by an advocate while appearing before the Director General, Competition Commission of India (DG).
The Court held that as the DG is a person “legally authorized to take evidence” under the Competition Act, 2002 (Competition Act), therefore, in terms of Section 30 of the Advocates Act, 1961, an advocate has a right to practice before the DG and a litigant has a right to engage the services of an advocate when appearing before the DG. The Court also noted that this right is not restricted under the Competition Act. Further, the Court observed that the DG has wide powers and the consequences of any investigation could be drastic and, therefore, it seemed necessary to protect the right of a person to be accompanied by an advocate when appearing before the DG for recording of evidence.