Airtel opposes CCI challenge to Bombay HC order setting aside probe against telcos
New Delhi: Bharti Airtel Ltd opposed a challenge by the Competition Commission of India (CCI) to setting aside of a probe against telcos on allegations of cartelisation and termed it as being “misconceived and frivolous”.
The telecom major, in its reply said that a dispute between two telecom service providers would fall within the exclusive jurisdiction of the two telecom bodies—Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) and Telecom Disputes Settlement Appellate Tribunal (TDSAT), not the CCI.
It further claimed that Reliance Jio had made unreasonable demands from other telecom companies regarding points of interconnection (PoI) and wrongly utilized the test phase by offering free services by which it was able to obtain a large number of customers even before its commercial launch, an issue that should be dealt with by the expert sectoral regulator, Trai and its appellate body.
Airtel was responding to a challenge by CCI to setting aside a probe on allegations of cartelisation. The Supreme Court has not granted an interim stay on the probe order and is hearing the case on merits.
CCI had moved the apex court on 24 January in appeal against an order of the Bombay HC setting aside a probe against the three telecom companies on complaints of cartelisation by Reliance Jio Infocomm Ltd.
On 21 September, the Bombay HC had ruled that the CCI had no jurisdiction to interpret contract conditions or policies of the telecom sector, which was governed by the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) Act, 1997.
The order was passed on a plea by Idea, Bharti Airtel, Vodafone India and the Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI) seeking quashing of the CCI order directing an investigation into allegations of cartelisation made by Reliance Jio.
Reliance Jio had questioned the jurisdiction of the Bombay HC and said the case must be heard by the Delhi HC since the CCI order was passed in Delhi. This was rejected by the court.
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