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High Court rejects CCI order in Reliance Jio case; relief for Airtel, Idea and Vodafone

In a development that has come as a relief to established telecom players such as Airtel, Idea and Vodafone, the Bombay High Court has set aside the order given by the Competition Commission of India (CCI). The CCI had ordered a probe after newcomer Reliance Jio had complaint to the CCI, saying that the established players are forming a cartel to disadvantage newcomers in the industry. The CCI had accepted the complaint and had ordered a probe in the case. However, the court has ruled against the CCI order. A bench of Justices Anoop Mohta and Bharati Dangre concluded that CCI does not have any jurisdiction to interpret contract conditions or policies of the telecom sector. The court said that the matters of the telecom sector can only be taken up by the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) Act.

Reliance Jio had mentioned in its complaint that the established telecom companies were not providing adequate interconnect points, due to which the calls of its customers were failing to get through. The established operators however had denied the allegations made by Reliance Jio. “The Authority under the Competition Act (CCI) has no jurisdiction to decide upon or deal with statutory agreements. Every aspect of the telecom sector is to be governed by the concerned department of the government keeping in mind the need and technology under the TRAI Act. Hence, there is no question of initiating proceedings under the Competition Act in this case,” the bench said.

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