CCI to halt probe against Airtel,Vodafone


NEW DELHI: The Competition Commission of India (CCI) told theBombay High Court on Friday that it will halt its probe into allegations of cartelisation against Bharti AirtelBSE -0.90 %, Vodafone India and Idea Cellular till July 28.

July 28 is next date of hearing in the case where Idea Cellular had challenged in the Bombay High Court CCI’s decision early May to investigate Jio’s allegations of cartelisation against the company and the other two incumbent telcos – Vodafone and Airtel.

“Counsel for respondent Nos.1 (CCI) and 2 (DG CCI) makes a statement that respondent Nos 1 and 2 shall not proceed with the investigation as has been ordered by the Competition Commission of India up to next date of hearing,” Justices Shantanu S Kemkar and MS Sonak said in their order issued Friday evening.

The order came in response to a petition filed by Idea on June 22, which sought a stay on the probe on the grounds that there is already the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai), which regulates the sector, and a tribunal for dealing with issues in the sector.

According to the order, Idea has asked for amending its petition for which a week’s time has been granted, and two weeks have been given to the respondents, which includes Reliance Jio, CCI and Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI), to file their replies to the amendment.
Early in May, CCI found prima facie evidence of Bharti Airtel, Idea Cellular and Vodafone India forming a cartel to deny Jio adequate points of interconnection (PoI) which led to huge call failures on the new entrant’s network, and ordered a detailed probe into the issue. The fair-trade regulator acted on a complaint filed by Jio last November and gave 60 days to complete the probe.