CCI Smells Anti-Competitive Behaviour By Vodafone, Idea And Airtel Against Reliance Jio
CCI directs investigation against Vodafone, Airtel and Idea for anti-competitive behaviour against Jio.
The Competition Commission of India (CCI) has ordered an investigation into allegations of cartelisation and abuse of dominance by telecom companies Vodafone India Ltd., Idea Cellular Ltd. and Bharti Airtel Ltd.,two lawyers close to the development told BloombergQuint. This is based on a complaint filed by Reliance Jio Infocomm Ltd. in November last year.
The CCI has found a prima-facie case of competition law violation by Vodafone, Idea and Airtel under Section 26(1) of the Competition Act, 2002, the lawyers said. Section 26(1) of the Act gives the regulator powers to order its Director General of Investigation to probe the matter further if a prima facie case exists.
The CCI order directing an investigation is expected to be published shortly on the regulator’s website. After which the investigation has to be completed within 60 days, as prescribed by the law. CCI will then assess the investigation report and pass a final order. There have been cases where even if the investigation report has found a violation of the Competition Act, the CCI has ruled otherwise.
While Idea and Vodafone refused comment on the matter, Bharti Airtel has not yet responded to BloombergQuint’s query for a confirmation.
The CCI has ordered the investigation after Reliance Jio, in November last year, filed a complaint against the three telecom incumbents alleging abuse of dominance and cartelisation. Reliance Jio had filed the complaint on the basis of a letter that the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) wrote to the Department of Telecom (DoT) in October 2016.
In its letter, the TRAI had stated that Vodafone, Airtel, and Idea, jointly with the Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI), denied points of interconnection to Reliance Jio. TRAI also pointed to a COAI letter dated September 2, 2016 that indicated attempts by the three incumbent telecom operators to stifle competition in the market. The telecom regulator had also recommended that the DoT impose a penalty of over Rs 3,000 cr on the three companies.