More reports on: Telecom

Reliance Jio screams foul, demands public apology from COAI

24 February 2018

A day after the Cellular Operators' Association of India (COAI) said it may take the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) to court following its recent Telecom Tariff Order (TTO), Reliance Jio Infocom sent a letter to COAI on Friday asking it to publicly apologise within 48 hours for "defamatory statements".

Rajan Mathew, director general, COAI  

Mukesh Ambani's Reliance Jio is also a member of COAI, but the telecoms association is dominated by the older or 'incumbent' operators.

Jio in its letter launched a scathing attack on COAI, saying the body has become a mouthpiece of incumbents like Bharti Airtel and is issuing "defamatory" and "malicious" statements that the telecoms regulator is favouring Jio.

The COAI issued a  "motivated" press statement earlier this week alleging that Trai was favouring the new operator, Jio said in a release, adding that such remarks were meant to "devalue the esteem, regard and confidence enjoyed by Jio" and cause injury to its reputation.

"COAI and Rajan Mathews (director general of COAI) are hereby called upon to issue a public apology and issue appropriate clarification expressly regretting their callous and defamatory statements through a separate press release issued no later than 48 hours from receipt of this notice," Jio said in a letter addressed to Mathews.

The letter was also sent to incumbent players like Bharti Airtel, Vodafone India, Idea Cellular and the TRAI chairman and secretary.

Earlier Mathews had said in a statement on the TTO, "We will speak to all our members and look for a consensus on the next steps to be taken. There has to be a public debate first and we have started that. The stakeholders including the DoT (Department of Telecommunications), PMO (Prime Minister's Office) and the courts need to look at this and take a stand on whether it is even-handed or not."

The COAI said TRAI's telecom order favours Reliance Jio.

Jio, reacting strongly, said, "Reliance Jio condemns and highly regrets COAI's reckless, wilful and flagrant act of making slanderous and libellous accusations patently against Reliance Jio in the press release, which are ex-facie defamatory and veiled under the garb of criticising the orders of the sectoral regulator."

"COAI, as it is accustomed, has equated yet another telecom reform benefitting the consumer as only benefitting RJIL," Jio alleged in a seven-page letter.

Jio said it is a core member of the COAI and "has constantly displayed, acted and promoted in a manner second to none, through its services and policies".

"However, it is highly regrettable and appalling to see that a body which had once emerged as the official voice of the Indian telecom industry is now reduced to becoming an instrument and mouthpiece of Bharti Airtel, Vodafone and Idea," Jio said in the letter.

The statement of COAI "warrants criminal and civil action for defamation", Jio said, demanding a public apology from COAI and Mathews within 48 hours.

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