Predatory pricing rules: Reliance Jio hits back, seeks apology from COAI

Hitting back at Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI) for its views on predatory pricing tariff norms issued by Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai), Reliance Jio Infocomm Ltd (RJIL) has sought an apology and explanation for making callous and defamatory statements against Jio and sectoral regulator.

Jio, in a letter addressed to Rajan Mathews, Director General, COAI said the press release issued by the association recently constitutes false communication that is intentional, wrongfully and maliciously made to induce disparaging and inimical public opinions against it. "The press release is motivated by the aim of devaluing the esteem, regard and confidence enjoyed by RJIL, thus causing injury to RJIL's repute among the public and in the market," the letter said.

COAI on February 20 had issued a press release terming the Trai's tariff order as favouring one particular operator with deep pockets and monopolistic designs at the expense of other operators and it deals a near fatal blow to the whole telecom industry.

However, Jio said the release while masquerading a public statement by an industry association, was in fact issued in bad taste and at the instance of incumbent operators namely Bharti Airtel, Vodafone and Idea Cellular, which control the association by virtue of their voting rights.

"RJIL was not even reached out for its views on the press release, notwithstanding it being a core member of COAI. It is also learnt no views were sought from Aircel, COAI's remaining core member," the letter said.

A copy of the letter is also marked to Airtel, Vodafone, Idea Cellular as well as to Trai.

The Mukesh Ambani-owned company said Trai had issued the regulations after an elaborate consultation process over a period of one year.

Jio said it is evident from Rajan Mathews' email forwarding the press release to the members of COAI, it has been issued at the instance of majority members. "RJIL reserves its rights to initiate criminal and civil defamation proceedings, including for damages, against both COAI and incumbent dominant operators, jointly and or severally," the letter added.

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