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Jio sues COAI and Rajan Mathews for defamation

Jio has sued the Cellular Operators Association of India and its director general Rajan Mathews. The COAI is a telecom industry body. Jio is a member of the COAI. The Delhi High Court has agreed to take on the case, and has issued an interim order gagging COAI from making any ‘disparaging’ remarks about Jio.

In the lawsuit, Jio has cited press releases and articles since 2016, where they say COAI has painted a narrative of Jio being an illegitimate operator. Here’s the meat of Jio’s grounds for the lawsuit:

[Read the full order here]

For now, COAI and its director general will no longer be able to use that kind of language to describe Jio. COAI’s counsel argued that those statements were ‘fair comments’ on Jio’s entry into the market and its evasion of regulatory scrutiny. Justice Yogesh Khanna, who issued the interim order, said, “I doubt whether the phrases/words used [such as], “back door operator“, “skullduggery” [sic], “deep pockets and monopolistic designs” would fall within the phrase of fair comment,” restraining COAI from using such language against Jio for now.

In the suit, Jio said that subscribers and shareholders had written to them raising concern about COAI’s statement, and said that this was causing them reputational harm. Jio is seeking damages for COAI’s statements. The next hearing in this case is listed to be held on August 24.

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I cover the digital content ecosystem and telecom for MediaNama.

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