Ashok Chawla to be new Competition Commission chief

Ashok Chawla, the former finance secretary and a “reformer”, will be the new chairman of India’s fledgling Competition Commission (CCI).

He will replace Dhanendra Kumar, who retires on June 5.

Chawla was chosen over Anurag Goel, a CCI member and Vijay Sharma, former secretary in the environment and forests ministry.

The CCI chairman’s position is likely to be a key one in the coming years, more important that even that of the telecom regulator, the TRAI.

Unlike sector regulators, under India’s new competition laws, the CCI will have the authority to punish companies for exploiting consumers, prevent a company from taking over another by withholding permission etc..

The CCI has been in the making for several years and was opposed by some groups such as the Tatas, who have expressed fears that more and more regulation and intervention by government in corporate matters will lead to bias.