A day after the Cellular Operators' Association of India (COAI) said it is likely to drag the telecom regulator to the court following its recent Telecom Tariff Order (TTO), Reliance Jio has sent a letter to the telecom body to publicly apologise within 48 hours for its "defamatory statements".
"COAI and Rajan Mathews (Director General, 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 on Thursday in a letter addressed to Mathews. A copy of the letter is available with IANS.
The letter was also sent to incumbent players like Bharti Airtel, Vodafone India, Idea Cellular and Telecom Regulatory Authority of India's (TRAI) Chairman and Secretary.
Earlier Mathews had said through a statement: "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.
Condemning COAI's statement, Jio 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."
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.
Update: Rajan Mathews, Director General, COAI, in a statement to the media has said, "Our differences are with the orders of the regulator [TRAI] and not with any specific operator. Our intention is not to aggrieve any particular operator. Individual operators are free to pursue the interests of their own company vigorously under the framework of the laws of the land. However, the regulator's role is to ensure the competing claims of companies are appropriately handled in the interest of the entire industry. This is the mandate of the TRAI Act, which specifically tasks it with ensuring the orderly growth of the Industry. When we perceive this to not be the case, we raise our concerns, as any relevant Industry association should, for the growth & development of the sector & in the interest of the nation. We'd also like to put on record that, all our other member operators are unanimous in their support of our position, with absolutely no exceptions."