The Supreme Court of India ruled in favour of Telecom companies on TRAI's directive on Call Drop Compensation to mobile phone users. A bench of Justices termed TRAI directive on Call Drop Compensation is arbitrary, illegal and unreasonable.
As we reported earlier, TRAI ordered all mobile operators to pay compensation to its customers at Rs. 1 for every call drop, subject to a maximum of Rs. 3 per day with effect from 1st January 2016. The latest Supreme Court ruling is a great relief to all mobile operators whereas ordinary consumers are very much disappointed.
The Supreme Court passed the judgment on appeals filed by the Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI), Association of Unified Telecom Service Providers of India (AUSPI) and 21 telecom operators.
“We, therefore, hold that a strict penal liability laid down on the erroneous basis that the fault is entirely with the service provider is manifestly arbitrary and unreasonable. Also, the payment of such penalty to a consumer who may himself be at fault, and which gives an unjustifiable windfall to such a consumer, is also manifestly arbitrary and unreasonable," - a bench headed by Justice Kurian Joseph said while setting aside the TRAI order.
On 16th October 2015, TRAI released its ninth amendment to the Telecom Consumers Protection Regulations (TCPR) 2012 which ordered all mobile telecom service providers to provide compensation to the consumers for every call dropped with effect from 1st January 2016 on wards. Mobile operators directed to pay a compensation of Re. 1 for every dropped calls, subject to a maximum of three such calls in a day.
The telecom industry associations - AUSPI (Association of Unified Telecom Service Providers of India) and the COAI (Cellular Operators Association of India) argued that TRAI doesn’t hold the power to order telcos to pay any compensation. They also added that, regulations to penalize operators already exists for quality of services and network coverage.
Kapil Sibal, who was representing telecom operators, said, “The Supreme Court of India has rendered historic judgment by striking down the TRAI regulation.”
The telecom companies had argued that the entire sector is under huge debt and they have to pay big price for spectrum, therefore zero tolerance on call drops should not be imposed on them. COAI and AUSPI have welcomed the Supreme Court judgement.
Rajan S Mathews, Director General of the Cellular Operators’ Association of India, said - “We are very pleased with the Supreme Court Verdict. It affirms what we have been saying all along. Now, let us move forward and fix the real issues, like having more cell towers, affordable spectrum and working with the local authorities to get the infrastructure in place."
Commenting on the Supreme Court order, Telecom Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said that consumers expect good service from mobile operators, and as a minister, it is his responsibility to keep persuading and monitoring them to ensure they fix gaps in their network.
"As far the judgement is concerned, Trai regulation is under scrutiny. Therefore, TRAI needs to take a call. As far as government obligation is concerned, we shall continue to persuade telecom operators to provide good service,"- the Minister said.
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