New Delhi, Dec 28 With manpower crunch and absence of permanent staffing system, there is an “element of drift” in the functioning of CCI’s probe arm whose speed and quality need to move to a higher level, according to the fair trade regulator’s chief Ashok Chawla.The Director General (DG) office carries out detailed probes into cases referred by the CCI, where the latter finds prima facie evidence of competition norm violations. (ALSO READ: Gujarat High Court allows abortion of rape victim’s 8-week foetus) Also Read - Karnataka High Court to Hear CCI Petition Against Amazon, Flipkart on January 18

Stating that office of the DG is supposed to be Competition Commission of India’s (CCI) “eyes and ears”, Chawla said there has to be a balance between quality and speed as neither can be sacrificed.
“Both (quality and speed) need to move to the higher level,” Chawla, who would be retiring as CCI Chairman next month, told . Also Read - CCI is asking smartphone makers information on their agreements with Google

He further said there are problems in terms of staffing and number of people who are available at the DG’s office “partly because the architecture that the government has approved for that office is that all people there will be on deputation”.The staff at the DG’s office are sort of professionally delinked from the Commission, though they are administratively under the regulator. “It is for a good reason that they should be at an arm’s length when they do their investigation and we should not guide them,” he added. Also Read - UP ATS arrests two alleged JeM terrorists from Deoband

In that process, however, Chawla said the DG’s office does not have adequate number as people come and go.”So there is an element of drift which coms into the investigation and the kind of institutional strengthening or institutional memory is not something which can be achieved there in a big way,” the CCI chief said.

According to him, investigations take time due to staff shortage and on account of stakeholders making things difficult for the DG office to carry out probes.”Because they are short of staff and because stakeholders make things difficult for them, the investigation takes time also. Both in terms of quality and quantity, the speed, there have been issues.

“At the end of the day that impinges on the decision making and speed of the Commission. This is an area which I think needs to be addressed by the government and by the future chairman and members in the Commission,” Chawla said.The CCI chief also stressed that investigations by the DG should not take too long as that would result in the whole objective of filing a complaint getting lost. In recent times, the CCI has been receiving more number of complaints and quite a few have been referred to the DG for detailed investigations. IMAGE CREDITS: BCCL