Feb 15, 2017 03:30 PM IST | Source: CNBC-TV18

Jio row: Govt thinks TRAI's fine on telcos is on weak ground

In October, the telecom regulator had recommended that a combined penalty of Rs 3,050 crore be imposed on Airtel, Vodafone and Idea for denying sufficient points of interconnect to new entrant Reliance Jio.

The Department of Telecommunication believes that the telecom regulator’s recommendation to impose a combined penalty of Rs 3,050 crore on Bharti Airtel, Vodafone India and Idea Cellular last October was based on weak grounds, sources have told CNBC-TV18’s Prerna Baruah.

In October, Telecom Regulatory Authority of India had recommended that DoT take action against the three carriers for violating licence norms by denying sufficient points of interconnect to new entrant Reliance Jio Infocomm.

It said the carriers’ actions appeared to be aimed at stifling competition and were against public interest. The action came after the regulator had issued showcause notices to three companies, seeking explanations for excessive call drops witnessed for calls between Jio and other networks.

But sources in DoT now say that Trai did not warn the telecom companies of the high penalty while issuing the showcause notices. They said that the ten days given for a response was not sufficient and that 90 days should have been given to the carriers to provide adequate interconnection points to Jio.

Trai has 15 days to respond, following which DoT will take a final call on the situation.

Last month, Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi said he was in favour of the penalty being imposed.

Idea Cellular had moved the Delhi High Court in December, challenging Trai's decision. It claimed it had complied with and met the requirements of Jio for points of interconnections.

Vodafone India had also approached the same court and asked it to quash the recommendation, arguing that Trai’s move was against principles of natural justice.

(Disclosure: RIL, which owns Reliance Jio, also owns Network18 and moneycontrol.com).



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