Jio charges mobile association with bias, wants charter overhauled

Jio charges mobile association with bias, wants charter overhauled

Mumbai, Sep 25 (IANS) Reliance Jio on Sunday said the regulations of Cellular Operators’ Association of India (COAI) are overwhelmingly biased and lopsided, framed to subserve the vested interests of the three incumbent dominant operators — Bharti Airtel, Vodafone and Idea. It has, accordingly, sought their complete overhaul.

In a letter to association Chairman Gopal Vittal and Director General Rajan S. Mathews, Jio said incumbent players command 68 per cent of the total votes in the association and that quorum in any executive council meeting is based on voting power, rather than number of members.

“It is imminently clear from the above that the entire decision making power and authority rests only with the incumbent dominant operators. The other core members have been reduced to a nullity and their presence or not will always be inconsequential,” the letter said.

These regulations, the letter said, make the regulations abysmally fall foul of competition law, especially by extending absolute control on decisions to incumbent dominant operators.

Mathews could not be reached for immediate comments.

The Jio letter said that the decision-making process of the association is replete with instances of sending out communications in utter disregard to fairness, accountability and transparency, even as issues are taken up towards which there is no mandate or power vested in its charter.

Among various examples, the company said the association conveyed its position to the authorities on the issue of interconnection between the networks of Reliance Jio and the incumbent players — without seeking the views of Reliance Jio.

“As a matter of fact, on a specific occasion, the association had the audacity to send a mail (containing a draft letter purportedly supposed to be sent to the Government) to Reliance Jio to seek its views whereas the letter had already been sent to the Government even before the mail was sent to Reliance Jio.”

The letter said as a public body, the association must work for the benefit of all of its members and the consumers, with legally- and morally-sound policies and representation, while encouraging fair competition in the market.

“In the light of the above, it is high time that COAI Regulations are amended to fall in line with (i) fundamental democratic principles namely, reasonableness, fairness, accountability and transparency, adequate representation to all members, etc., and (ii) to be compliant with all applicable laws, including principles of equity.

“Reliance Jio seeks a thorough overhaul and amendment of Cellular Operators’ Association regulations and process by appointing a committee consisting of three retired Hon’ble Judges of the Hon’ble Supreme Court of India to make sure that both fall in line with fundamental democratic principles of reasonableness, fairness, accountability and transparency including with provisions for adequate measures to prevent any abuse in future.”

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