Decided on May 03,1993



A.N. Varma, J. - (1.) THIS enquiry has been initiated against Duncans Tea Ltd., the respondent under Section 10(a)(iv) and Section 37 of the Monopolies and Restrictive Trade Practices Act, 1969 (hereinafter referred to as the "Act"). The notice mentions two charges against the respondent : 1. The two letters written by the respondent on April 14, 1986, and June 4, 1986, to Shri Anup Aggarwal of Allahabad directed him to deal exclusively with Duncans products which is a restrictive trade practice within the meaning of Section 33(l)(c) of the Monopolies and Restrictive Trade Practices Act, 1969.
(2.) The price-list of the respondent effective from January 21, 1985, did not give liberty to distributors/retailers to charge a lower price than the price fixed by the respondent. This practice amounts to a restrictive trade practice within the meaning of Section 33(l)(f) of the Monopolies and Restrictive Trade Practices Act, 1969. It also attracts Section 39 of the Act. 2. The proceedings had originated with a complaint addressed to the Commission by one Shri Anoop Aggarwal of Allahabad vide his letters dated April 14, 1986, and June 4, 1986. The Commission, on receipt of the complaint, investigated by Director (Research) who submitted a preliminary report on April 24, 1989, stating that prima facie Duncans Tea Ltd. had indulged in restrictive trade practices falling under Clauses (e) and (f) of Section 33(1) of the Act. On the basis of the Preliminary Investigation Report, the Commission issued notice of enquiry under Section 10(a)(iv). In response to the notice, the respondent filed its reply refuting the charges and denying the allegations made in the complaint. Shortly, the respondent's case was that the complainant was never appointed as' its distributor and that he was purchasing goods on principal to principal basis and there was no agreement of agency. It was further stated that the price list produced by the complainant was not the price list of the respondent-company, and that the one issued by the company was annexed to the reply and is marked as annexure A in which it is stated that the retailers are free to sell the products at prices lower than that quoted in that list. The charge of exclusivity was also denied by the respondent. It was said that all that was intended to be conveyed to Shri Anoop Aggarwal through the company's letters dated April 14, 1986, and June 4, 1986, was that there was likelihood of contamination of tea if the same was stored, carted and distributed in the market along with other commodities such as detergents, etc. The complainant was never restrained from dealing in tea manufactured by other manufacturers.
(3.) ON the pleadings of the parties, the following issues were framed by the Commission in its order dated October 22, 1990 : (1) Whether the respondent is or has been indulging in the restrictive trade practices as stated in the notice of enquiry. (2) If the reply to issue No. 1 is in the affirmative, whether the aforesaid restrictive trade practices are prejudicial to the public interest or to the interest of any consumer or consumers in general. (3) Relief.;

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