Trai may Reject CCI’s Turf Trespass Claim
New Delhi: India’s telecom watchdog will likely a cite legal precedent to reject the antitrust body’s claim that the sector controller had stepped on to the latter’s turf by examining aspects of dominance and predatory pricing as part of a consultation paper, foretelling further friction between the Centre’s two regulatory arms. The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) is likely to tell the Competition Commission of India (CCI) that predatory pricing and dominant position are well within its regulatory framework, something the watchdog had specified while beginning the consultation process on tariff assessment earlier this year, a senior official at the telecom controller told ET.
The Trai response would follow CCI’s July 21 letter, which claimed that by examining predatory pricing and dominance, the telecom watchdog had encroached upon the jurisdiction of the antitrust commission.
“We’ve been dealing with the issue of non-predation much before the CCI was constituted and we’ve been talking about vertical price squeeze and significant market power. These are the economic principles being followed for years to deal with competition in the sector, and it is our domain,” the senior official said.
Trai’s stance would be based on previous cases that involved the competition regulator and sector watchdogs, such as the Central Electricity Regulatory Commission (CERC) and the Petroleum and Natural Gas Regulatory Board (PNGRB). Both judgments in these cases went in favour of the sector controllers.
“We will reply to them, saying that it is unfair to state that the aspects highlighted fall only within the purview of CCI. It has a complimentary role along with Trai, which is discharging the role given to it as a sector regulator… And, that we’re open for consultation,” the official added. Although the antitrust body had responded to Trai’s consultation exercise much later than the last stipulated date for stakeholder responses, the watchdog is open to a meeting with CCI to discuss the issues the competition regulator had raised. However, this could end up delaying the recommendations on the matter by a couple of months.