COAI to defend its stand against Jio in court

COAI to defend its stand against Jio in court

Expressing disappointment over Reliance Jio moving the Delhi High Court against COAI director general Rajan S Mathews, the industry body reiterated that the allegations made by the operator were without merit and that it will defend its stand in the court. COAI, which represents all the major telecom operators including Jio, maintained that the allegations are ‘patently misconceived’ as all communications were issued in good faith and in furtherance of its duty as an industry association.

“It is disappointing that one of our members has chosen to take legal action against the association. We believe the allegations are without merit and we intend to defend ourselves vigorously. COAI is well within its rights to hold and voice its views on regulatory and policy issues. The matter is currently sub judice and we are in the process of considering and evaluating our legal options,” Mathews said.

On May 31, the Delhi high court asked COAI and Mathews to refrain from making disparaging and defamatory statements against the Mukesh Ambani-led company.

Jio moved the HC seeking to restrain Mathews from continuing to make maliciously false, disparaging and defamatory statements and to take down all such content published by them. It is said that Mathews’ statements were aimed to initially thwart its entry into the market and later to stifle its growth. It further said that COAI’s attempt was to advance the commercial interest of its majority members — Bharti Airtel, Vodafone India and Idea Cellular.

Mathews argued that whatever comments were made are ‘fair comments’ and do not come within the purview of the definition of defamation. The next hearing in the matter is on August 28. The tussle between COAI and Jio started after Trai came out with its amendments to the Telecommunications Tariff Order (TTO) on February 16, where the regulator defined predatory pricing for the first time and also amended the definition of ascertaining a significant market player (SMP). COAI responded to this in a statement where it blamed Jio for the industry’s woes.