CCI Dismisses Bharti Airtel’s Anti-Competitive Practices Complaint Against Reliance Jio

Competition Commission of India (CCI) today dismissed all the claims made by Bharti Airtel against Reliance Jio. Airtel has accused Reliance Jio and its parent company Reliance Industries for anti-competitive practices. The CCI today responded as ‘no case could be made out against the Mukesh Ambani-led firms.’

Airtel-Postpaid

“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,” says a report from Press Trust of India (PTI).

While rejecting the complaint made by Airtel, the CCI in a 17-page order said that Airtel had not given any “plausible explanation as to how Jio’s free services was an outcome of the unilateral conduct of Reliance Industries as well as an anti- competitive agreement between RIL and Jio.”

If you recall, a few weeks ago, CCI has ordered a detailed probe into the conduct of leading telecom operators including Bharti Airtel for raising unnecessary claims against Reliance Jio.

The CCI, in today’s order, said: “Jio’s conduct has not been found as prima facie contravening the provisions of the (Competition) Act prohibiting unfair pricing including predatory pricing”.

The regulator also insisted that it’s unfair to held RIL in contravention of the competition laws just because it’s the parent company Jio. “Mere investments cannot be regarded as leverage of dominant position, particularly when RIL itself is not engaged in the business of providing telecom services or any activities incidental thereto,” cited the report.

“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.

For the uninitiated, in February 2017, Bharti Airtel moved to CCI against Reliance Jio claiming for introducing anti-competitive offers one after the other. “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 Act,” concluded the CCI.

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