Telecom industry body COAI is likely to approach High Court against the Competition Commission of India (CCI) order probing its role as an association in the context of anti-competitive agreements.

As per the CCI order reviewed by Business Standard, in addition to incumbent telecom operators (ITOs), conduct of COAI also needs to be examined under the provisions of Section 3(3) of the Act.

When asked if COAI will appeal before the High Court against the order, Rajan S Mathews, Director General of COAI said that it is an option for them.

"It is an option, yes? Once we get the order and give that to the lawyers, they will advise us whether they believe an appeal at this stage in the High Court is appropriate or not. If it is, then we will evaluate that, if not then the alternative is to go through the 60-day investigation. Our understanding is that, we strongly believe that there will be nothing to indicate," Mathews said on the sidelines of the World Telecom Day 2017 event.

The COAI DG mentioned that in the past also, it had happened when companies approached directly to the Higher Court without waiting for the probe to be completed.

"Because it can cause so much material damage to your reputation that it is appropriate for you to come to the High Court and seek relief. So obviously the threshold is not low, it's high," he added.

Although the CCI has taken majority view that there is cartel on part of the incumbent players like Vodafone, Airtel and Idea, two of its members feel that there is no case. In the interim order, two members of the CCI feel that Reliance Jio is to blame and not the incumbents. DG is the investigation arm of the CCI.

"First of all the notice has been not served on any of us. I need to put the caveat that the order is not been out officially," said Mathews while adding that the industry body will have a close look at the order once it comes to them. 

"Once the order comes, we will of course look at it very carefully because there have been some instances in the past when appeals have been made to high couurts even before the investigation has commenced," he said. – Business Standard



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