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Draft digital competition bill: Stakeholders write to MCA to extend deadline for submitting inputs

A group of stakeholders, including think tanks, industry associations, and civil society organisations, have written to the Ministry of Corporate Affairs seeking another extension—this time of five months—for submitting inputs on the Draft Digital Competition Bill, 2024, and the Report of the Committee on Digital Competition Law.

In a letter addressed to MCA Secretary Manoj Govil, these stakeholders have said that the current deadline of May 15 is insufficient to make a nuanced and informed submission, considering the technical complexity of the subject matter, cross-cutting impact of the Bill, and regulatory overlaps.

“Owing to the Bill’s wide impact on India’s digital economy, it requires a robust, in-depth, and evidence-based examination and public consultation process, which consequently requires more time for stakeholders to comment. The role of MSMEs, startups, civil society, academia, and technical community, as part of this process, will be critical,” said the letter, adding that such an extension would help them conduct research, get inputs on small businesses, consumers, gig workers and study the impact of the of existing ex-ante regulations across the world and its efficacies.

Accordingly, they have sought at least five more months, until October 15, 2024, to submit their inputs. Significantly, the MCA had previously extended the deadline for submitting inputs by one month. The previous deadline was April 15.

The letter has been written by 47 stakeholders (21 organisations and 26 individuals) including CUTS International, DeepStrat, Esya Centre, Internet Freedom Foundation, India SME Forum, Forum for Internet Retailers, Sellers & Traders, Organisation of Retailers and Traders and Broadband India Forum, amongst others.

The MCA had on March 12 released the draft Bill along with the report of the Report of Committee on Digital Competition Law. The bill has called for specifically regulating “Systemically Significant Digital Enterprises” (SSDEs) that provide core digital services in India and have a significant presence and significant financial strength in the country. It has also proposed ex-ante measures specifically applicable to large digital enterprises, to supplement the Competition Act. Companies that are found to be in breach of competition laws can be fined as much as 10% of their global turnover and face imprisonment of three years.

It is seen to be one of the top priority areas for the new government that comes to power after the General Elections. BusinessToday

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