The Hon’ble Supreme Court, while holding that unless the language of the statute indicates the need to establish the presence of mensrea, it is wholly unnecessary to ascertain whether such a violation was intentional or not, restored the penalty of Rs. 1 crore imposed by the Competition Commission of India on Thomas Cook India Ltd, Thomas Cook Insurance Services India Limited and Sterling Holiday and Resorts India Limited.
The Court held that the order of the Tribunal setting aside the order passed by the Competition Commission under section 43A of the Competition Act, 2002 cannot be said to be legally sustainable. The penalty of Rupees One Crore was imposed on the respondents on the ground of noncompliance of provisions contained in section 6(2) of the Act.
Calling the penalty of Rs. 1 crore as a nominal penalty, the Apex Court was of the opinion that there was no ground to interfere with the same. The breach of the provision is punishable and considering the nature of the breach, it is open to impose the penalty. The imposition of penalty under section 43A is on account of breach of a civil obligation, and the proceedings are neither criminal nor quasicriminal. Only discretion in the provision under section 43A is with respect to quantum of penalty.