The Delhi High Court upheld the decision by the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) to penalise operators for dropped calls. A bench of Chief Justice G. Rohini and Justice Jayant Nath dismissed a batch of petitions filed by the Cellular Operators Associations of India (COAI), and said, “We are of the view that regulation cannot be held to be beyond the scope of the regulating power of TRAI on any ground whatsoever.” They added that under “no circumstances” the decision by TRAI can be “termed as penalty.” The COAI has earlier called the regulation “arbitrary and whimsical” and that providing compensation to consumers amounted to interfering with the tariff structure. This could be done by an order and not a regulation.
In October last year, TRAI had told telecom operators to pay subscribers Re. 1 for every call dropped, up to a maximum of three dropped calls a day, starting from 2016. However, the operators chose to ignore TRAI’s mandate and said that said that the ruling was a “knee-jerk reaction.” The COAI earlier said that the annual compensation due to dropped calls might range from Rs. 10,000 crore to Rs. 54,000 crore. However, TRAI refuted their claims, and said that it would cost operators no more than Rs. 200 crore per quarter.
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