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Supreme Court rejects CCI appeal to probe Bharti Airtel, Vodafone-Idea

The competition watchdog had appealed against an earlier Bombay High Court order which quashed its probe into these telecom companies

Aashish Aryan  |  New Delhi 

Telecom companies
Photo: Reuters

The on Wednesday upheld a September 2017 order of the Bombay High Court, quashing Competition Commission of India’s (CCI) probe into allegations of cartelisation by Bharti Airtel, India and Cellular. India and Cellular have since merged to form

The had in January moved the top court after the Bombay high court had quashed the investigation ordered by the fair trade regulator into charges of cartelisation against the three The probe against the firms was ordered by the in April 2017, after the then entrant had complained that Airtel, Vodafone and Idea had formed a cartel and were not providing it enough points of interconnection (PoI).

The high court had, however, set aside the order for probe and said that the fair trade regulator could exercise its jurisdiction only after proceedings against the said had been concluded by either a competent authority or the Telecom Disputes Settlement and Appellate Tribunal (TDSAT) according to the provisions of the Telecom Regulatory Authority (Trai) Act.

“Every majority decision cannot be termed as ‘cartelisation’,” the high court had then said. Jio, since starting its trial and full-fledged services in 2016 had repeatedly complained that Airtel, Vodafone India and Idea Cellular were not giving it enough PoIs, which had resulted in call drops on its network. It had also complained against the three to the

Acting on Jio’s complaints, conducted an enquiry and in October 2016 recommended to the department of telecom that a fine of Rs500 million per local service area should be imposed on the three firms for failing to adhere to its norms. Apart from that, it had also recommended a fine of Rs190,000 on Idea Cellular for rejection of mobile number portability requests to Jio’s networks.

Though the DoT had in 2017 asked to reconsider its recommendations, the had remained firm on its stance that the three telecom operators had intentionally denied and delayed giving PoIs to Jio. Vodafone India has moved the Delhi high court against the fine imposed on it, while Idea Cellular has approached the same court against Trai’s Rs190,000 penalty recommendation. Both the matters are pending before the court.

First Published: Wed, December 05 2018. 15:16 IST
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