New Delhi, December 5: In a major relief to Vodafone Idea and Bharti Airtel, the Supreme Court today dismissed the Competition Commission of India’s (CCI) plea to allow it to probe the allegations made by Reliance Jio Infocomm Ltd of cartelization against its rival telecom companies.
Reliance in 2016 approached the Competition Commission of India alleging that the other telecom companies are abusing their dominant market power and engaging in unlawful and illegal activity by not providing the required interconnection, resulting in a lot of call drops.
The bench, headed by Justice AK Sikri, was hearing the CCI’s appeals challenging a judgment passed by the Bombay High Court.
The Bombay High Court last year also ruled against the proposal to investigate saying that the antitrust regulator doesn’t have the jurisdiction to order a probe when the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI), a sector-specific regulator, is already there to take up such cases.
The Bombay High Court hearing came after a petition was filed by Jio’s rival companies – Idea, Bharti Airtel, Vodafone India, and Cellular Operators Association of India, seeking quashing of CCI’s order.
Earlier this year, the Competition Commission of India and Reliance Jio Infocomm Ltd moved the Supreme Court against the Bombay High Court’s order that quashed the investigation ordered by it. CCI also challenged quashing of the investigation against the Cellular Operators Association of India for allowing its platform to be used by its top rivals. In June this year, Reliance filed a defamation suit against COAI. It alleged that the telecom regulator had tried to thwart its entry into the telecom market and later stifle its growth while advancing the interests of other members.
Competition Commission of India is a statutory body of the Government of India responsible for preventing activities that have an appreciable adverse effect on competition in India.