At a time when Bharti Airtel, Vodafone and Idea Cellular are facing tough financial situation, the Bombay High Court’s order quashing cartelisation probe against the incumbent cellular operators has come has a big relief for them…

NEW DELHI, SEPTEMBER 22, 2017: Adding yet another dimension to the ongoing tussle between the incumbent players — Bharti Airtel, Vodafone and Idea Cellular — and Reliance Jio, the Bombay High Court has quashed the Competition Commission of India (CCI)’s investigations into charges of cartelisation made by the new entrant against the three top operators. The decision is being seen as a major relief to the incumbent players have been under deep financial stress due to predatory pricing of Reliance Jio which has led to steep decline in their revenues.

The Bombay HC has quashed the investigation ordered by the CCI against telecom operators’ body — Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI) — for allowing its platform to be used by the top three incumbents to deny Reliance Jio points of interconnection (PoIs). 

While quashing the Court reportedly observed that the CCI failed to take into account certain irrelevant material pertaining to the case and has ignored certain relevant material. Detailed order is expected next week.

Reacting on the court order, COAI’s Director General Rajan S Mathews said the Bombay High Court has vindicated the stand of the operators and the industry body. “All along we were saying that there was no cause of action and that there was no prima facie case against us. There was a dissent by two members of the CCI in this. That tells you that there was no consistent thinking in terms of the allegations and the underlying rationale and validity of the accusations. And one of them happens to be a retired High Court Judge, who is the only legal expert on the panel,” he said.

In May this year the CCI had asked its Director General (Investigation) to probe whether a prima facie case was there against the three incumbents and COAI, which required detailed investigation. Since the DG had found merit in Jio’s complaint, CCI decided to probe the matter.

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