ICAI’s CPE program not an abuse of dominant position: HC quashes CCIs Order against ICAI

by Samuel Pordengerg Jun 3, 2023 News
ICAI’s CPE program not an abuse of dominant position: HC quashes CCIs Order against ICAI

The CCIs order against ICAI was quashed by the high court.

The Delhi High Court in the case of the Institute of Accountants of India (ICAI) vs The Competition Commission of India (CCI) held that the institute cannot be accused of abusing its dominant position.

The text is relevant.

61. There is an education program run by the organization. This isn't the same as any of the services provided by other agencies. A seminar of ASSOCHAM is not a part of the professional educational program prescribed by ICAI. It is difficult to understand how any other service provider or any other person holding a seminar can give a professional education.

60 The powers and functions of the CPED are set out in the statement. To approve the formation of CPE chapters, to review and monitor the programs conducted by various POU, to allocate and assign responsibilities to various persons and or organizations, and to take action against CPE study circles are some of the functions included in this.

There is a new version of 61. The structured learning activities must be approved by the CPED before being conducted by POU. The details of the programs to be organized by them must be uploaded and the records of the programs must be maintained. They are required to follow directions from time to time, as well as uploading the attendance on the portal. A plain reading of the statement clearly shows that the CPE program is not an unattended program, and that the content and manner in which the programs are to be organized and conducted is determined by the Institute. Considering seminars organized by ASSOCHAM and other Chambers of Commerce as part of the structured learning would mean that ICAI would have to supervise the contents of those seminars and make sure that they are conducted in accordance with its guidelines. It is anti-competitive to not accept the Informant's contention. The court can't accept the contention. There are no markets for trade or commerce where such decisions operate. The decisions that are made do not operate in the market of trade.

61. Statutory corporations and bodies are formed under legislative enactments and are charged with specific functions. Services may also be provided. The same would be subject to scrutiny by the CCI if those economic activities aren't part of its regulatory functions. A decision in exercise of regulatory powers is required to be taken by the regulator and its discretion to do so can only be fettering by the provisions of the statute. The regulatory powers are not reviewed by the CCI.

64. The regulation and maintenance of the status and standard of professional qualifications of members of the Institute is subject to the prior publication and approval of the central government.

63. The educational program for qualification as a chartered accountant is also conducted by the institute. There is a detailed program for ensuring the training of the students and further evaluating them for their qualification as accountants. The student who gets the qualification will be able to enroll as a member of theICAI and practice as an accountant. The Informant is of the opinion that the programs run by the institutions should be considered educational programs in order for them to be considered as chartered accountants. There are many universities that offer degree courses in accounting. The same subjects that are part of the syllabus of the educational program are taught in specialized courses. If the Informant's arguments are accepted, the ICAI would be obliged to recognize other universities and colleges that impart the qualified education for the purpose of enrolling members as chartered accountants. The argument is flawed. The function of the qualification for entry of a person's name in the register is the same as this. Academic courses and their contents can be approved by the CA Act. Statutory powers have been granted to perform this function, which is required by the organization. It is not subject to a review by the CCI. The Council/ICAI has the power to recognize foreign qualification and training in order to enroll. Certain foreign qualifications can be recognized with discretion by the ICAI. This would not be reviewed by the CCI. The CCI exercises powers under the Competition Act that are not in derogation of other statutes.

66. The decision to frame the CPE Program for maintenance of professional standards cannot be seen as abuse of its dominant position.

67. The CCI does not have the power to address any grievances regarding arbitrary action by any authority. The CCI believes that there is a relevant market for organised recognisedCP seminars/workshops/ conferences. It's clear that the view is incorrect. There is no market for seminars and workshops. The educational program for structured CPE credits is conducted through its organs and is charged with maintaining professional standards. The Informant wants the function to be taken out of their hands. The other entities would be able to participate in the market as market players.

66. The jurisdiction of the CCI is not able to be accepted because the same may fall within the sphere of economic activity. If any activity falls within the definition of economic activity, it is necessary to create an open market for the same. The court can't accept that the CCI can force an organization to outsourcing.

There is a limit to the number of words that can be used in this article. The counsel for CCI relied on the decision of the court in the case of the agriculture produce marketing board. The jurisdiction of the CCI to examine the procurement of IMFL was upheld despite the fact that it was done pursuant to a policy framed by the Board.

67. There was a different point in the case. Distribution of IMFL was involved in the canalising of the brands. The court found that canalising of IMFL could not be considered a function of the state. The commercial market is involved in the process of procurement of goods from open market.

70 The Court did not accept the contention that ICAI is not an enterprise within the meaning of the Competition Act. The issue of outsourcing the activity of conducting the CPE program in discharge of its functions is at the center of the controversy.

There is abaoutbaoutbaoutbaoutbaoutbaoutbaoutbaoutbaoutbaoutbaoutbaoutbaoutbaoutbaoutbaoutbaoutbaoutbaoutbaoutbaoutbaoutbaoutbaoutbaoutbaoutbaoutbaoutbaoutbaoutbaoutbaoutbaoutbaoutbaoutbaoutbaoutbaoutbaoutbaoutbaoutbaoutbaoutbaoutbaoutbaoutbaoutbaoutbaoutbaoutbaoutbaoutbaoutbaoutbaout In the impugned order, the CCI stated that the decision of the ICAI to restrict seminars to itself and its organisation is arbitrary. There is a market for conducting structured CPE program which is required to be regulated by the CCI. There is an assumption at the center of the controversy. The court can't accept that all decisions made by authorities, which have any relation to economic activities, are liable to be subject of investigation by the CCI on the basis that they are not relevant to any market which involves entities engaged in trade or commerce. The power of the CCI to review decisions made by statutory bodies and foreign governments is not applicable to a government's function. The market that engages entities involved in trade and commerce should be the focus of the examination.

There is abaoutbaoutbaoutbaoutbaoutbaoutbaoutbaoutbaoutbaoutbaoutbaoutbaoutbaoutbaoutbaoutbaoutbaoutbaoutbaoutbaoutbaoutbaoutbaoutbaoutbaoutbaoutbaoutbaoutbaoutbaoutbaoutbaoutbaoutbaoutbaoutbaoutbaoutbaoutbaoutbaoutbaoutbaoutbaoutbaoutbaoutbaoutbaoutbaoutbaoutbaoutbaoutbaoutbaoutbaout The CCI's learned counsel relied heavily on the decision of the Court of the Justice of the European Union. The Quality Control Regulation (Regulamento do Controlo de Qualidade, Dirio da Repblica, 2nd series, No 175, of 27 July 2004) wassailed as violating the provisions of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union. It is against the law to restrict or distort competition. Abuse by one or more undertaking of a dominant position within the internal market or in a substantial part of it is incompatible with internal market if it affects trade between member states.

There is a limit to the number of words that can be used in this article. The OTOC promoted two types of training, institutional training and professional training, according to the regulations impugned in the case. The OTOC can offer all types of training related to the profession. OTOC was able to provide institutional training. Higher education establishments and bodies are authorized by law to provide professional training. The training bodies alleged that the impugned regulations restricted their freedom to train accountants. The impugned regulations were found to have offended the articles of the treaty. OTOC went to the Lisbon Commercial Court to challenge the decision. OTOC had distorted competition on the market of compulsory training for accountants and the impugned regulations were likely to hinder trade between the Member States, according to the court. OTOC did not abuse its position in the market according to the court. OTOC wanted the decision of the Commercial Court to be thrown out because its training activity was outside the scope of the treaty. The court of second chamber rejected the contention. OTOC should be regulated in its entirety according to the court.

There is abaoutbaoutbaoutbaoutbaoutbaoutbaoutbaoutbaoutbaoutbaoutbaoutbaoutbaoutbaoutbaoutbaoutbaoutbaoutbaoutbaoutbaoutbaoutbaoutbaoutbaoutbaoutbaoutbaoutbaoutbaoutbaoutbaoutbaoutbaoutbaoutbaoutbaoutbaoutbaoutbaoutbaoutbaoutbaoutbaoutbaoutbaoutbaoutbaoutbaoutbaoutbaoutbaoutbaoutbaout On the one hand OTOC provides training for accountants, and on the other, access to other providers wishing to offer such training is subject to standards set out in the impugned Regulation. The regulations had a big impact on the market of compulsory training for accountants.

There is a limit to the number of words that can be used in this article. The fact that OTOC had to put in place a system of compulsory training for its members did not remove it from the source of the article, according to the court.

There is abaoutbaoutbaoutbaoutbaoutbaoutbaoutbaoutbaoutbaoutbaoutbaoutbaoutbaoutbaoutbaoutbaoutbaoutbaoutbaoutbaoutbaoutbaoutbaoutbaoutbaoutbaoutbaoutbaoutbaoutbaoutbaoutbaoutbaoutbaoutbaoutbaoutbaoutbaoutbaoutbaoutbaoutbaoutbaoutbaoutbaoutbaoutbaoutbaoutbaoutbaoutbaoutbaoutbaoutbaout The court has doubts about the decision. The decision was made in the context where both OTOC and professional institutions were authorized to provide the training. OTOC and those institutions provided courses for the professional training of accountants. There are other professional bodies in the European Market. In the present case, there is no other institute that provides training other than the one provided by ICAI. The program is conducted by the organization. The professional accountants have to certify that they have devoted time for professional development in order to get the credits for the training. The activity of providing professional training to acquire the classification of a chartered accountant is done by only one body or institution.

There is abaoutbaoutbaoutbaoutbaoutbaoutbaoutbaoutbaoutbaoutbaoutbaoutbaoutbaoutbaoutbaoutbaoutbaoutbaoutbaoutbaoutbaoutbaoutbaoutbaoutbaoutbaoutbaoutbaoutbaoutbaoutbaoutbaoutbaoutbaoutbaoutbaoutbaoutbaoutbaoutbaoutbaoutbaoutbaoutbaoutbaoutbaoutbaoutbaoutbaoutbaoutbaoutbaoutbaoutbaout The petition can be seen in view of the above. The impugned order is no longer in place. The applications that are pending are also thrown away.

There is a limit to the number of words that can be used in this article. Parties are responsible for their own costs.

The PDF for the official judgement is given below.