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Leniency Plus Regime

22nd February, 2024 Economy

Leniency Plus Regime

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  • The Ministry of Corporate Affairs has recently introduced a new Leniency Plus system, enabling the Competition Commission of India (CCI) to adopt an innovative approach in uncovering undisclosed cartels among companies.

Leniency Plus Program

  • The Leniency Plus program is designed to incentivize companies under investigation for one cartel to voluntarily disclose additional undisclosed cartels to the Competition Commission of India (CCI). This proactive approach helps uncover covert collusive agreements and provides the CCI with crucial inside evidence to take enforcement action.
  • The implementation of Leniency Plus marks a significant step in India's antitrust enforcement approach. With its provisions officially effective as of February 20, 2024, this regime represents a forward-looking tool for cartel detection.

Understanding the Leniency Plus Regime

  • The Leniency Plus system focuses on enticing leniency applications by motivating companies to voluntarily disclose other cartels unknown to the CCI. In return, these companies receive extra reductions in penalties.

Key Features of the Leniency Plus Regime:

  • Under the leniency plus regime, an applicant can receive additional reduction in penalty for disclosing information about a second cartel.
  • The applicant is entitled to applicable reduction in penalty for the second cartel as a lesser penalty applicant.
  • The regime is expected to enhance the current lesser penalty regime in India.

Implementing the Leniency Plus Regime in India

  • The CCI is responsible for enforcing the Leniency Plus regime and formulating associated procedural regulations. However, challenges such as ambiguity around evidentiary thresholds and strategic misuse by cartelists need to be addressed.

Benefits of the Leniency Regime in India:

  • The leniency regime in India has led to the detection of several cartels in industries such as auto parts and alcoves.
  • Companies can benefit from up to 100% waiver in their penal liabilities.
  • Increased enforcement action in other jurisdictions like the United States has been observed due to the leniency regime.

Expected Outcomes of Leniency Plus Regime

  • Effective implementation of Leniency Plus is expected to enhance cartel detection and prosecution, promote fair and competitive markets, and protect consumer welfare through deterrence.

International Prevalence of Leniency Plus Regime:

  • Leniency-plus regimes are already prevalent in many countries, including the UK, US, and Singapore.
  • The regime aims to encourage companies to disclose information about cartels and improve competition law enforcement.

Regulatory Developments:

  • The CCI introduced the leniency plus regime following the Companies Amendment Act, 2023.
  • The draft regulation on the lesser penalty plus regime was issued by the CCI in October last year.
  • Feedback from stakeholders was considered, and changes were made to the Draft lesser penalty regulations 2023 based on international best practices and past experience.

Future Directions for India’s Leniency Plus Regime

  • Continued monitoring and modifications based on enforcement patterns are essential to maximize policy outcomes. International cooperation and sharing of best practices can further optimize the regime’s effectiveness.
  • In conclusion, the Leniency Plus regime represents a significant milestone for Indian cartel enforcement, promising to dismantle market-distorting agreements through proactive measures. 

The Competition Commission of India (CCI)

  • The Competition Commission of India (CCI) is a statutory body responsible for enforcing the Competition Act, 2002 in India.


  • The CCI consists of a Chairperson and a maximum of six members appointed by the Central Government.
  • Members are selected from persons with special knowledge of economics, business, law, finance, etc.


  • Prohibiting anti-competitive agreements.
  • Preventing abuse of dominant position by enterprises.
  • Regulating combinations (acquisitions, mergers, and amalgamations) that could impact competition.


  • The CCI has jurisdiction over all of India and enforces the Competition Act, 2002.


  • Wide-ranging powers to investigate and penalize anti-competitive practices.
  • Conducts inquiries into anti-competitive agreements and abuse of dominant position.
  • Imposes penalties on violators.

Role in Mergers and Acquisitions

  • Evaluates the impact of proposed combinations on competition.
  • Approves combinations subject to certain conditions.

Advisory Role

  • Provides opinions on competition issues referred by government departments, authorities, and courts.

Competition Advocacy

  • Engages in competition advocacy to promote competition and educate stakeholders.

International Cooperation

  • Cooperates with competition authorities in other countries.


  • The CCI plays a crucial role in promoting and protecting competition in India, ensuring efficient markets and consumer benefits.


  • Cartelization occurs when independent entities in a market collaborate to control prices, limit supply, or divide markets. This behavior is usually illegal in many jurisdictions as it harms consumers by reducing choices and increasing prices.

Types of Cartels:

  • Price-Fixing Cartels: Members agree to set prices at a certain level, often inflating them artificially.
  • Market Allocation Cartels: Members divide markets among themselves, agreeing not to compete in certain areas.
  • Output Restriction Cartels: Members agree to limit the quantity of goods or services produced, artificially creating scarcity to maintain higher prices.
  • Bid-Rigging Cartels: Members agree on who will win a bid in a competitive tendering process, manipulating the outcome to benefit a specific member.

Effects of Cartelization:

  • Higher Prices: Cartels can lead to inflated prices for goods and services.
  • Reduced Innovation: Competition often drives innovation. Cartels can stifle this by reducing competitive pressure.
  • Harm to Consumers: Reduced choice and higher prices can negatively impact consumers.
  • Distorted Markets: Cartels can distort market dynamics, leading to inefficiencies.

Detection and Enforcement:

  • Whistleblowers: Employees or competitors can provide information about cartel activities.
  • Leniency Programs: Authorities offer reduced penalties to the first member of a cartel to cooperate.
  • Investigations: Competition authorities conduct investigations to uncover cartel activities.
  • Penalties: Cartel members can face significant fines and legal consequences.

International Perspective:

  • Cartels can operate across borders, requiring international cooperation for enforcement.
  • Organizations like the International Competition Network (ICN) facilitate cooperation among competition authorities.


  • The OPEC oil cartel, which aims to control oil prices and production levels.
  • The LCD price-fixing cartel, where major electronics companies were fined for fixing prices of LCD panels.
  • The LIBOR scandal, where banks manipulated the LIBOR rate for financial gain.


Q. How many of the following statements is/are incorrect regarding the Leniency Plus regime introduced by the Competition Commission of India (CCI)?

1.The Leniency Plus regime aims to encourage companies under investigation for one cartel to voluntarily disclose information about additional undisclosed cartels to the CCI.

2.Companies disclosing undisclosed cartels under the Leniency Plus regime may receive additional reductions in penalties.

Select the correct answer using the codes below:

A) Neither 1 nor 2

B) Both 1 and 2

C) Only 1

D) Only 2

Answer A) Neither 1 nor 2