Antitrust case against Shikshantar School, Gurgaon is closed prima facie

Competition Commission of India: CCI, not finding prima facie violation of S. 3 and 4 of the Competition Act, closed a case against Shikshantar School for alleged anti-competitive activities. The informant parents had alleged that after withdrawal of admission of their child the school was not refunding the fee paid by them for child’s education. It was averred that they were forced to withdraw admission because the school was not providing proper conveyance facility and due care and safety to children during traveling time.  They averred that such unfair trade practice would cause an appreciable adverse effect on competition in the field of primary education in India and particularly, in rich circles like Gurgaon within the meaning of sections 3 and 4 of the Act. As per the information Shikshantarr School could afford to a non-competitive attitude towards the Informant because of its backing by Unitech which is a real estate giant.

The Commission observed that the the dispute in question relates to the provision of school education services wherein school is the service provider (supply side of education service) and the Informant is a consumer (demand side of the education service market). It further considered Gurgaon as relevant geographic market as the parents who are residing in Gurgaon and looking for admission for their child in schools in Gurgaon may not prefer areas other than Gurgaon for admission of their child because of factors such as distance, transportation time etc. The relevant market was considered as the “market of the provision of school education services in Gurgaon”. The Commission found that there are around 125 more schools functioning in Gurgaon which indicates that the parents had options to admit the Informant in other schools and they do not seem to be completely dependent on Shikshantar for school education services. It opined that Shikshantar School is not dominant in the relevant market; therefore, it cannot be scanned under S. 4 for abuse of dominant position. Further, in non-disclosure of any kind of agreement that can be termed as anti-competitive in terms of any of the provisions of S. 3 of the Act there exists not prima facie case. [In re: Baby Nandini Garg and Management of Shikshantar School, [2015] CCI 144, decided on 29.09.2015]

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