The Competition Commission of India (CCI) on Friday rejected Bharti Airtel's complaint against Reliance Industries Limited (RIL) and Reliance Jio alleging anti-competitive practices by them. "The Informant (Bharti Airtel) has also made contradictory submissions of the impugned free services of OP-2 (Reliance Jio) as being an outcome of leverage of dominant position by OP-1 (Reliance Industries Limited) as well as an outcome of alleged anti-competitive agreement between OP-1 and OP-2," the fair trade watchdog said.
"The Informant has not given any plausible explanation as to how the impugned free services is an outcome of unilateral conduct of OP-1 as well as an anti-competitive agreement between OP-1 and OP-2," the watchdog added. The CCI said the conduct of Reliance Jio had not been found to be "prima facie contravening the provisions of the (Competition) Act prohibiting unfair pricing including predatory pricing."
It said that in the absence of any finding of anti-competitive conduct by Jio, RIL could not be held to be in "contravention of Section 4(2)(e) of the Act just because it has made huge investments" in Jio, the 17-page order by CCI stated. It said mere investments cannot be regarded as leverage of dominant position, particularly when Reliance Industries Limited "itself is not engaged in business of providing telecom services or any activities incidental thereto."
If one were to construe such investment as anti-competitive, the CCI said, "the same would deter entry and/or expansion and limit the growth of markets," the order maintained. It said: "The Commission, therefore, is of the view that no prima facie case of contravention of the provisions of Sections 3 or 4 of the Act is made out against the Opposite Parties."
(Disclosure: Reliance Industries Ltd. is the sole beneficiary of Independent Media Trust which controls Network18 Media & Investments Ltd)