Jio terms COAI’s ‘backdoor’ comment defamatory, COAI ‘disappointed’

Reliance JioNew Delhi, (IANS) : Reliance Jio on Wednesday took exception of being called a backdoor operator by the Cellular Operators’ Association of India (COAI), saying the industry body’s latest statement was defamatory and amounted to contempt of court.

In response, COAI Director General Rajen Mathews said in a statement: “COAI is disappointed that Reliance Jio, who is our member has taken internal association matters which can very well be settled within the association into a public forum. We categorically dismiss the allegations and claims of RIL Jio and will be in communication with them to resolve the matter.”

Jio said that it wanted a three-member panel of retired Supreme Court judges to recommend an overhaul of the regulations of the association, since it alleged that they were skewed in favour of the incumbents.

Yet, a Jio statement added, Mathews claimed that these are bilateral issues even as he himself raised them in external fora in the past few months without discussing them internally.

“The allegations of Rajan S. Mathews in the press statement to the effect that Reliance Jio entered the sector as a ‘Back Door Operator’ are on the face of it defamatory and borders on contempt of the orders of the Hon’ble Supreme Court,” Reliance Jio said in a statement.

“COAI and Rajan S. Mathews is fully aware that these allegations were part of a public interest litigation filed before the Hon’ble Supreme Court of India in Writ Petition (Civil) No. 382 of 2014 – Centre for Public Interest Litigation vs. Union of India & Others, and all of the said allegations have been duly adjudicated upon and rejected by the Hon’ble Supreme Court,” the statement added.

Reliance Jio has sent a notice to Mathews demanding an apology for issuing the press statement, with copy to the COAI seeking appropriate action against Mathews.

“Should they not act upon it, Reliance Jio will pursue legal recourse with full vigour,” said the Jio statement, adding: “While RJIL was indeed aware of the extant COAI’s regulations at the time of becoming a member, Reliance Jio cannot be restrained to raise its genuine and fair concerns, especially and more so, when the incumbent dominant operators are colluding to use the very same COAI regulations against Reliance Jio to promote their anticompetitive activities.”

However, the reaction from COAI said that it and the “Director General, has always acted in full compliance with the constitution and by-laws of the association and have always upheld and complied with all the regulations and rules of the land”.

“We have the highest respect for all constitutional authorities of the country,” its statement said.

“We find the allegations of Reliance Jio to be without merit, bald and motivated. They are intended to bring disrepute to the association. We remain committed towards advancing the industry position and our members and the consumers remain at the heart of everything we do,” it added.


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