Moneycontrol
Last Updated : May 11, 2016 02:36 PM IST | Source: CNBC-TV18

SC strikes down 'arbitrary, unconstitutional' call drop penalty

The Supreme Court has struck down the penalty on call drops that the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India was seeking to levy on telecom companies, saying the move was "unreasonable, arbitrary and unconstitutional".

The Supreme Court has struck down the penalty on call drops that the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India was seeking to levy on telecom companies, saying the move was "unreasonable, arbitrary and unconstitutional".

The decision comes as a relief for telecom companies who were staring a steep financial cost had the call drop penalty come into effect.

Last year, the TRAI had announced a penalty of Re 1 per dropped call, subject to maximum penalty of Rs 3 per day, saying that under investment by telecom companies had led to rising incidents of call drops across the country.

Telecom companies, which argued that the issue was partially because of reasons beyond their control (such as lack of permissions to install more towers), contested the decision in High Court, which upheld the penalty and later approached the apex court.

During the judgment, the SC said the mechanism through which TRAI had concieved the penalty was not transparent.

"We are pleased that the Supreme Court adjudicated the matter along the lines we had prayed for. Our points of view have been vindicated," Rajan Mathews, Director General, Cellular Operators Association of India, said.

"The focus going forward will be [for telcos] to work with the government and TRAI to fix the underlying causes [of call drops] and improve network connectivity," he added.

While the decision comes as a positive for telcos, formerly CEO of Airtel and Chairman of Micromax said there was a need to recognise that the customer experience on quality of networks in the country had suffered over the past few years.

"I do believe that the whole ecosystem has put their heads together and not take this respite as a getaway but really work towards improving the consumer experience and call drops," he said. "Today, businesses and lives of individuals are dependent on communication and connectivity. It has now become among the basics of Maslow's hierarchy of needs."

Ashok Sud, Secretary General, Association of Unified Telecom Service Providers of India, said the court's decision was a relief but "wherever there are any kind of shortcomings, our members will try their hardest to do whatever they can to cover them."
First Published on May 11, 2016 10:50 am
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