Fair trade regulator CCI today rejected Bharti Airtel’s complaint alleging anti-competitive practices by Reliance Industries and Reliance Jio, saying no case could be made out against the Mukesh Ambani-led firms. The Competition Commission of India (CCI) also said that Bharti Airtel has made “contradictory submissions of the impugned free services” of Jio as being an outcome of leverage of dominant position by parent Reliance Industries as well as an outcome of alleged anti-competitive agreement between the two group firms.
Dismissing Bharti Airtel’s complaint, the CCI said in a 17-page order that the company has not given any plausible explanation as to how Jio’s free services was an outcome of unilateral conduct of Reliance Industries as well as an anti- competitive agreement between RIL and Jio. The order assumes significance as the CCI has already ordered a detailed probe into the conduct of leading telecom operators, including Bharti Airtel, for allegedly forming a cartel against Reliance Jio.
In its today’s order, the CCI said Jio’s conduct “has not been found as prima facie contravening the provisions of the (Competition) Act prohibiting unfair pricing including predatory pricing”. It also said that in the absence of any finding of anti- competitive conduct by Jio, its parent RIL cannot be held to be in contravention of the competition laws just because it has made huge investments in its telecom venture.
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“Mere investments cannot be regarded as leverage of dominant position, particularly when RIL itself is not engaged in business of providing telecom services or any activities incidental thereto. “If one were to construe such investment as anti- competitive, the same would deter entry and/or expansion and limit the growth of markets,” the CCI said, while ruling that no prima facie case of contravention of the competition laws is made out against the two Reliance firms.