For the second time in a week, the Competition Commission has dismissed allegations of unfair business practices made against Mukesh Ambani-led Reliance Jio Infocomm. The complaint mainly pertained to the free services offered by the new telecom player and allegations that it indulged in predatory pricing. This is the second time that the Competition Commission of India (CCI) has rejected a complaint against Reliance Jio. On June 9, it had dismissed similar allegations made by telecom major Bharti Airtel. “The Commission is of the view that the introductory offers of OP-1 (Reliance Jio Infocomm) do not amount to any contravention of the provisions of the (Competition) Act,” CCI said in its order dated June 15 and based its conclusions on the earlier ruling in the Bharti Airtel complaint. To decide the case, the regulator considered ‘provision of wireless telecommunication services to end users in each of the 22 circles in India’ as the relevant market.
Two individuals filed the complaint against Reliance Jio as well as Department of Telecommunications (DoT), Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) and Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd (BSNL). Since the relevant markets for the two cases were same, CCI extensively cited the previous order in the current ruling. The market is characterised by the presence of several players resulting in sufficient choice to consumers who can shift from one service provider to another and that too with ease, CCI noted. “In a competitive market scenario, where there are already big players operating in the market, it would not be anti-competitive for an entrant to incentivise customers towards its own services by giving attractive offers and schemes,” the regulator noted.
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Quoting the previous order, the watchdog also said that such short-term business strategy of an entrant to penetrate the market and establish its identity cannot be considered to be anti-competitive in nature and as such, cannot be a subject matter of investigation under the Competition Act. Finding no prima-facie evidence of competition norms violations, CCI also rejected the allegations against DoT, Trai and BSNL.