New Delhi: In fresh woes for Monsanto, the Competition Commission of India (CCI) has ordered a detailed probe into three more complaints against the US-based genetically-modified seed major by clubbing them with the ongoing investigation.
The three new complaints pertain to abuse of dominant position by way of imposing discriminatory conditions in sub- licence agreements, similar to the previous two allegations in which the Commission ordered a probe in February this year.
After finding prima-facie violation of competition law, the watchdog had ordered a detailed investigation against the Indian arm of Monsanto on complaints then filed by the agriculture ministry and three other domestic seed companies.
The CCI has ordered clubbing of the new complaints—filed by Kaveri Seeds, Ajeet Seeds and Ankur Seeds—with the earlier ones. Now, the Director General will probe these complaints too.
The complaints are against Mahyco Monsanto Biotech (India) Ltd (MMBL), its US-based co-parent Monsanto Inc, Maharashtra Hybrid Seeds Company (Mahyco), and Monsanto Holdings. MMBL is an equal joint venture between Monsanto and Mahyco.
CCI said that considering the substantial similarity of the core allegations and scope of directions given in the earlier cases, the present complaints are being clubbed.
“The DG shall investigate the instant cases, along with the above-mentioned cases,” the regulator said in an order, dated 9 June, made public on Wednesday .
Earlier allegations related to charging unreasonably high trait fees for Bt cotton seeds, creating a monopoly and entering into anti-competitive sub-licensing agreements with the Indian seed manufacturers, among others.
After looking into the previous complaints, CCI in its majority order had said that prima-facie the conduct of MMBL appeared to be in violation of Section 3 and 4 of the Competition Act. Section 3 pertains to anti-competitive agreements while Section 4 relates to abuse of dominance.
While ordering a detailed probe in February, CCI had also said that if the DG finds that the companies have contravened competition law, the role of officials at the time of violations would also be looked into.
In December last year, the government had passed an order to control pricing of cotton seeds including Bt Cotton—the genetically-modified (GM) ersion. It was also decided to fix and regulate licence fees, including royalty or trait value