The Delhi High Court today termed as an "abuse" the competition regulator CCI's decision to investigate United Kingdom-based Vodafone Group plc, the parent company of Vodafone India, for default in providing inter-connection to Reliance Jio (RJio).
"This is an actual abuse and we have no compunction in stating so," the high court said while issuing notice to CCI and Reliance Jio seeking their replies on Vodafone Group's plea challenging the fair trade regulator's order.
Justice Vibhu Bakhru also sought the stand of Bharti Airtel, Idea Cellular and Vodafone India, all three of whom have been accused by RJio of not providing it inter-connect facility, and listed the matter for hearing on April 23.
The UK-based parent company of Vodafone India has moved the high court against the Competition Commission of India's (CCI) September 12, 2017 decision to reject its plea that it be deleted as a party from the proceedings initiated on a complaint by RJio.
The foreign entity has claimed that the high court had on July 14 last year directed the CCI to examine its plea for discharge from the proceedings and pass a "speaking order", but regulator did not do so.
The high court agreed with Vodafone Group's claim that "no speaking order" was passed by the CCI, and questioned how a holding company was responsible for inter-connection default.
"This is an actual abuse and it must stop. If the CCI is not applying its mind, despite clear directions by this court, then we will comment on it," the court said.
Vodafone has also challenged CCI's April 21 order of last year directing an investigation into the foreign entity also, along with the other telecom majors operating here, on RJio's complaint.
RJio, meanwhile, told the high court that the April 21, 2017 order of CCI has been set aside by the Bombay High Court, and the regulator, in January this year, has moved an appeal in the Supreme Court where it is pending.
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