By way of an August 16 2016 order, the Competition Appellate Tribunal (COMPAT) upheld a Competition Commission of India (CCI) order declining to investigate allegations of abuse of dominance by Vodafone India for levying exorbitant charges for its international roaming plans.(1)
The complaint was filed by Vishwambhar Marutirao Doiphode, who alleged that Vodafone India was in a dominant position and took advantage of this position by levying exorbitant charges (Rs0.564 per megabyte (MB), instead of Rs0.3 per MB) for its international roaming plans. The appellant further stated that, in India, the average data usage charge was Rs0.04 per kilobyte – approximately Rs0.4 per MB. According to the appellant, by charging Rs0.564 per MB, Vodafone India was in contravention of Sections 4(2)(a)(i) and 4(2)(e) of the Competition Act.
The CCI held that there was no prima facie case to launch an investigation into the allegations of abuse of dominance, as Airtel, Idea Reliance, Tata, Aircel and Mahanagar Telephone Nigam were also providing wireless telecoms services and offering international mobile data plans. Further, the appellant had failed to provide statistics showing that Vodafone India had the largest share in the relevant market. In the absence of such material, the CCI held that Vodafone India could not be found to be in a dominant position.
COMPAT dismissed the appellant's appeal, holding that the CCI had not erred in declining to investigate the allegations, as the appellant failed to provide evidence to show a prima facie case that Vodafone India's market share was the largest among the telecoms service providers. In the absence of such information, there was no reason to order an investigation and thus COMPAT found that the CCI had rightly declined his request.
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(1) COMPAT order dated August 16 2016. For the full text please see COMPAT's website.