The Appointments Committee of Cabinet has named Ravneet Kaur, a Punjab cadre IAS officer of 1988 batch, as chairperson of the Competition Commission of India (CCI). Kaur will hold the post for five years or until attaining the age of 65.
She is the second woman to serve in an ‘economic regulator’ role after Madhabi Puri Buch, who was appointed chairperson of the Securities and Exchange Board of India last year and the first woman to head the country’s chief national competition regulator.
There was no full-time chairperson for the competition regulator since Ashok Kumar Gupta demitted office in October 2022. It had two rounds of applications in the past. The absence of a chairperson had left its three-member quorum short of one person.
Presently serving as special chief secretary and financial advisor in the Punjab government’s Department of Revenue and Disaster Management, Kaur got this posting while still in service (before retirement).
A senior official said her experience in disaster management ought to be helpful while she is in CCI, given the high-profile cases.
Kaur’s appointment comes at a time when the antitrust watchdog is dealing with several Big Tech cases, including of Google, WhatsApp, Facebook, and Amazon.
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CCI is also staring at a backlog of 200 cases that were transferred to the commission from the National Anti-Profiteering Authority in December.
“Chairpersons have an unskilled entry and a skilled exit from CCI. Her tenure for five years or until 65 years of age will provide stability to the post as well,” said a senior official.
The lack of quorum at the CCI, due to a vacant chairperson post, had forced the commission to invoke the doctrine of necessity to clear the combination applications. It did not resort to a similar move to deal with anti-profiteering and abuse-of-dominance cases. With the quorum now restored, CCI will act swift on several pending complaints, including those against Big Tech companies.
Kaur, a postgraduate in economics and public economic management from the University of Birmingham, is the fifth chairperson of CCI. During her 29-year-long career, she has been a joint secretary in the Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion under the Ministry of Commerce and Industry. Before that, she was appointed chairperson and managing director (MD) of India Tourism Development Corporation.
She also worked as principal secretary in the Departments of Higher Education and Languages, Cabinet, Coordination and Parliamentary Affairs with the Government of Punjab.
Earlier on in her career, she also served in the Departments of Financial Services, Economic Affairs, and Disinvestment.
She has also held multiple positions, some of which include vice-chairperson and MD of Punjab Communications, chairman and managing director (CMD) of Exim Bank, CMD of India Infrastructure Finance Company, and additional MD of Markfed.
She was also a consultant with the International Food Policy Research Institute in Washington, DC, and spent a year as a Hubert H Humphrey Fellow at Cornell University.
DONNING THE MANTLE
· There has been no full-time chairperson for the competition regulator since Ashok Kumar Gupta demitted office in October 2022
· CCI Member Sangeeta Verma has been acting as chairperson since October last year
· The chairperson will get a consolidated salary of Rs 4.5 lakh per month without house and car, according to order dated May 15