Reliance Jio Infocomm, promoted by billionaire Mukesh Ambani, on Monday wrote to the regulator Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) seeking action against Vodafone Idea and Bharti Airtel, amid farmers' protests in and around Delhi against the new farm laws. Jio highlighted an "unethical and anti-competitive mobile number portability (MNP) campaign" being run by Vodafone Idea and Bharti Airtel amid the protests.
Reliance Jio said its letter was in furtherance of its letter dated September 28, 2020 "highlighting the unethical and anti-competitive MNP (mobile number portability) campaign being run by Airtel and VIL to capitalise on the ongoing farmer protests in northern parts of the country".
"We submit that despite the above submissions, these companies continue to remain directly/indirectly involved in supporting and furthering the insinuations and false and frivolous rumours of Reliance being an undue beneficiary of the farm laws, for unethical pecuniary benefits in the form of induced porting of RJIL customers," the letter said.
Reliance Jio added that Airtel and VIL "remain unabated in pursuing this vicious and divisive campaign through its employees, agents and retailers".
"They are inciting the public by making preposterous claims that migrating Jio mobile numbers to their networks would be an act of support to farmers'' protests," said the letter written on December 10. The letter was accompanied by pictures of "misleading and inciteful campaign" across Punjab and other northern states.
Responding to the allegations made by Reliance Jio, Bharti Airtel in a statement said, "Airtel has operated in the telecom industry for 25 years. During this period, we have competed hard in the market place and striven to serve our customers with excellence. At the same time, we take great pride in treating our competitors and partners with respect."
"Despite being provoked by some competitors who we know will go to any length to make baseless allegations, adopt bullying tactics and use intimidatory behaviour, we have always conducted our business with character and transparency; something that we are deeply proud of and known for," Bharti Airtel said. "The current complaint therefore deserves to be dismissed and thrown out with the contempt that it deserves. It is in poor taste and is scurrilous, to say the least," it added.
Vodafone Idea also denied the charges. "Vi believes in doing business with ethics. These are baseless allegations against us to malign our reputation. We strongly refute such irresponsible comments on us," Vi said.