Sardar Ali, Member -
(1.) THIS order shall dispose of an enquiry instituted against the respondent on the basis of an application under Section 10(a)(iii) of the Monopolies and Restrictive Trade Practices Act, 1969, filed by the Director-General of Investigation and Registration. On the basis of the application of the Director-General, the Commission after satisfying itself that there is a prima facie case, issued a notice of enquiry, vide order dated July 27, 1988, against the respondent for indulging in the following restrictive trade practices :
"1. There is a tie-up in respect of the publications of advertisement in Kota, Udaipur and Jodhpur editions of the Rajasthan Patrika, Hindi edition with its Jaipur Hindi edition because the rates for publication in Jaipur edition have been framed in such a manner that they include the rates relating to publications in Kota, Udaipur and Jodhpur editions: while there are separate rates also if publication of advertisements is to be done only in editions of Kota, Udaipur and Jodhpur. THIS is a restrictive trade practice within the meaning of Section 33(1)(b) read with Sub-section (2) of Section 33 of the Monopolies and Restrictive Trade Practices Act.
(2.) There is a manipulation of prices of the publication of advertisements of the Jaipur Hindi edition of Rajasthan Patrika in a manner as to impose unjustified costs on the consumers because any one who wants to get such publication in Jaipur edition has necessarily to pay for such publications in Kota, Udaipur and Jodhpur editions also. This is a restrictive trade practice within the meaning of Section 2(o) of the Monopolies and Restrictive Trade Practices Act."
2. After taking a number of adjournments, the respondent had filed its reply, dated February 20, 1989, controverting the allegations made in the notice of enquiry. The Director-General had filed the rejoinder and after completing the proceedings the following issues were framed on May 9, 1989 :
"(i) Whether the respondent committed restrictive trade practices, as alleged in the Director-General's application and in the notice of enquiry issued thereon ?
The Director-General relied on six documents admitted by the respondent. Exhibit A-1 is a letter dated November 16, 1987, issued by the respondent to the office of the Director-General of Investigation and Registration during investigation. Exhibit A-2 is a copy of the letter dated October 19, 1987, issued by the respondent to Rajasthan Spinning and Weaving Mills Ltd. Exhibit A-5 is an advertisement tariff enforced from January 1, 1987, of the Jodhpur edition of the respondent. Exhibit A-4 is an advertisement tariff enforced from March, 1986, of the Kota edition of the respondent. Exhibit A-5 is the advertisement tariff enforced from January 1, 1987, of the Udaipur edition of the respondent. In the advertisement tariff, exhibits A-3, A-4 and A-5, it has been written on the top "published simultaneously from Jodhpur, Jaipur, Udaipur, Kota." Exhibit A-6 contains an advertisement tariff effective from March 1, 1987, of the English daily published from Jaipur only. It is also stated in this exhibit "Hindi daily published simultaneously from Jaipur, Jodhpur, Udaipur and Kota" and "combined rate card of Hindi and English". In the said exhibit, the respondent has given advertisement rates pertaining to Hindi combined Jaipur, Jodhpur, Udaipur and Kota and also advertisement rates for the English daily. The respondent has also stated in the said document "advertisement released for the combined Hindi editions will be published in the English daily also as a bonus". The Director-General has not given any other oral or documentary evidence except as stated above.
(3.) TO prove its version of the case the respondent has filed the affidavit dated March 15, 1990, of Shri Gulab Kothari, one of the directors of the respondent company, which was treated as examination-in-chief and marked as exhibit RW-1/1. The witness has stated in its affidavit that the respondent is not charging combined rates giving attraction of free insertion as alleged or that the respondent is forcing the advertiser to pay the combined rates only for the Jaipur edition ; that the respondent's regular display advertisement rate is Rs. 80 per single column centimetre and is applicable fop all the national advertisers on a circular of 1,26,750 copies along with the benefits of the English daily Patrika and as such there is no tie-up of rates on the national advertising ; that the respondent had a higher rate for the Jaipur Hindi edition as it is the latest among all having the largest circulation providing an opportunity to several advertisers to reach a larger number of people ; that the advertisement charge for Jodhpur, Udaipur and Kota for the local edition and the local advertising only is on the basis of circulation and is most justifiable even from the consumer point of view ; that in the process the respondent has helped the small, medium and even bigger advertisers to use the specific editions for their needs at a convenient and flexible rate under the clause of "consumer benefits" provided the advertisements released by them are not of a national character and are not intended for total advertising in all the editions published from Rajasthan.;