ONE HOUSE, MULTIPLE FAMILIES: SHOULD ENFORCEMENT OF CONSUMER PROTECTION AND COMPETITION LAWS BE HOUSED TOGETHER?
With the increasing integration of India’s economy with the rest of the world, growth of Indian companies has surpassed expectations. As a result, Indian companies have grown phenomenally and have established dominant positions within India. At the same time, companies based outside of India have entered into India’s burgeoning and profitable consumer market. Thus, Indian regulators must grapple with two concerns: first, ensuring that there is competition in the markets and second, protecting consumers. It is trite that both concerns are essentially about enhancing consumer welfare, albeit via different pathways. Ensuring competition in the markets is a macro-based, supply-side approach to enhancing consumer welfare: an indirect approach. Consumer protection is a micro-based, transaction-focused, demand side approach to enhancing consumer welfare: a direct approach. This paper posits that despite this differential, there are advantages to housing enforcement of competition and consumer protection under the same house. Overall, benefits of such an amalgamation far outweigh the costs. To conclude, this paper submits merely housing these two disciplines is not an adequate strategy, it must be complemented with an educational outreach program. It is critical to ensure that the burden of enforcing consumer protection is shared between the Competition Commission of India and consumers.