CCI’s Plea Rejected in Supreme Court

Supreme Court today ruled out Competition Commission of India’s plea seeking permission to initiate investigation on Reliance Jio Infocomm Ltd.’s allegations of cartelisation against its older rivals— Vodafone India Ltd., Idea Cellular Ltd. and Bharti Airtel Ltd, professing that CCI’s probe cannot be conceded in the presence of the sector-specific regulator—in this case the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India.

Headed by Justice AK Sikri, the bench 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.