Mumbai: The Reliance Jio on Friday informed the Bombay High Court that it has been a victim of the ‘ganging up’ by other competitors like Airtel, Vodafone and Idea. The mobile service provider claimed that Airtel, Vodafone and Idea had together ganged up to block Jio’s entry in the telecommunication industry.
A division bench of Justice Anoop Mohta and Justice Bharati Dangre heard the petitions filed by the telecom companies – Airtel, Vodafone, Idea and industry body COAI (Cellular Operators Association of India). The four had challenged the orders of the Competition Commission of India (CCI) that had ordered for a detailed investigation against them for allegedly trying to block the entry of Reliance Jio. The four have challenged the orders claiming that it is illegal and bad in law which has brought disrepute to them nationally as they are operating in all parts of India.
The CCI orders were issued in April this year in response to a complaint made by Reliance Jio alleging that the incumbent players had not provided sufficient network connectivity that led to constant call failures on its network. Appearing for Reliance, senior counsel Harish Salve urged the judges to junk the petitions as the Bombay HC has no jurisdiction to hear the said pleas. He said, “The entire cause of action in this issue has taken place in Delhi, right from filing of the complaint in the CCI to the orders of probe everything has been done in Delhi.”
Salve also apprised the judges with Jio’s preliminary plaint. He said, “All the three of them along with COAI, ganged up against me (Jio) only to delay my launch. I wanted to create my base in the telecommunication industry but they only tried to block me.” “Worst was that the COAI on behalf of other telecom service providers, wrote letters to the government and the regulatory authority against me,” Salve said.
On the other hand, senior counsel Darius Khambatta, appearing for one of the incumbent telecom company cited several judgements of the Supreme Court to substantiate that the Bombay HC has the jurisdiction to hear their pleas. Posting the matter for further hearing on Monday, Justice Mohta extended the interim stay on the orders of CCI till the next date. The judges also asked the CCI not to take any coercive action against any of the companies till further hearing.