Mumbai: Industry body Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI) has hit back at Reliance Jio Infocomm Ltd, stating that the telecom firm should withdraw its defamation notice and publicly apologize to the association, COAI director general Rajan Mathews said in a letter released on Monday.
The letter from Mathews—dated 28 February and addressed to Jio’s president (regulatory Kapoor Singh Guliani—comes days after the company, owned by Mukesh Ambani’s Reliance Industries Ltd, sent a notice to COAI on 22 February to immediately cease and desist from publishing false and defamatory imputations against Jio and issue a public apology.
Jio’s allegation that COAI had acted arbitrarily, discriminatorily and as a mouthpiece of some members was misconceived, Mathews said.
“As an industry association, COAI has the duty to raise grave issues concerning the growth and development of the telecom sector," Mathews said, adding that Jio’s allegations against the industry were uncalled for and in bad taste.
Mathews said that COAI denies Jio’s allegations, adding that voicing views cannot constitute defamation.
“You are advised to withdraw your captioned notice and issue a public apology to us for your notice on behalf of Jio," he said, adding, “We reserve our right to initiate legal action against you and RJIL for false and malicious imputations against COAI and its officials."
COAI had in a press statement on 20 February said that the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India’s (Trai’s) recent orders, including the latest tariff order amendment, “seem to be strengthening the ambitions of one particular operator with deep pockets and monopolistic designs at the expense of other operators".
In a 22 February letter addressed to the COAI director general, Jio had said that the press statement by the body is defamatory under the garb of criticizing the telecom regulator’s order.
The company added that Jio reserves its right to initiate criminal and civil defamation proceedings, including for damages, against both COAI and incumbent dominant operators.
When contacted a Jio spokesperson said that the company did not have any comment to make immediately.