A man talks on a mobile phone at a bus stop in Chennai, Tamil Nadu, India. (Photographer: Sanjit Das/Bloomberg)

Supreme Court Dismisses CCI’s Plea To Probe Jio’s Cartelisation Charge Against Airtel, Idea, Vodafone

The Supreme Court today dismissed the Competition Commission of India’s plea to allow it to probe Reliance Jio Infocomm Ltd.’s allegations of cartelisation against its older rivals— Vodafone India Ltd., Idea Cellular Ltd. and Bharti Airtel Ltd.

The bench, headed by Justice AK Sikri, was hearing the CCI’s appeals challenging a judgment passed by the Bombay High Court. The high court in September had ruled against the probe saying the CCI doesn’t have the jurisdiction to order a probe when there is a sector-specific regulator—in this case the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India.

In January this year, the CCI contested in the top court that a stay order cannot be passed against an ongoing investigation by the commission and the court can look into it only once the probe is complete.

Reliance Jio in November 2016 filed a complaint with the CCI alleging that the incumbents were abusing their dominant position to prevent it from accessing points of interconnection. Such points connect users of one operator with subscribers of another mobile phone services provider. The CCI in May 2017 had ordered an investigation into allegations of cartelisation and abuse of dominance by telecom companies.