DoT to soon place proposed amendments to Trai Act before TC
Aug 18 2013 , New Delhi
"We have finished inter-ministerial consultations on amendment to the Trai Act. The draft amendments will be first placed before Telecom Commission, then they will be sent to the Cabinet. The amendment will come in to effect only after approval from Parliament," a DoT official told PTI.
While the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) has powers to regulate and monitor rates, quality and other parameters of telecom and broadcasting services to protect consumer interest, it does not have the power to impose penalties on service providers for failing to adhere to rules.
Trai periodically comes out with performance indicator report of service providers and has often found them involved in billing disputes and lagging in addressing complaints of subscribers, but it has not been unable to penalise them.
Trai is also tasked to check menace of pesky callers who have been spamming consumers with unwanted calls and SMS.
DoT in an ongoing inter-ministerial consultation has said that
"jurisdiction to impose penalties through a transparent process for default in compliance with its orders and regulations as well as for non-observance of terms and conditions of licence is proposed to be vested in Trai".
Trai at present is required to file a complaint before a criminal court for adjudication of liabilities and hence "its ability to enforce its direction and regulation has, thereby, been severely constrained," DoT added.
The move to amend the Act comes amid apprehensions among DoT officials that if they lower penalties imposed on telecom operators, they run the risk of facing allegations of conniving with them. It has been observed that they tend to impose the maximum penalty that can be levied.
The maximum penalty on telecom service provider can go up to Rs 50 crore.
Under the new licensing regime in the works, Trai has suggested imposing a penalty of up to Rs 10 crore for major violation, and up to Rs 25 lakh for minor violation.
According to industry estimates, telecom service providers are facing penalties to the tune of Rs 6,500 crore.
Of this, Rs 1,900 crore has been imposed on the industry for EMF (radiation) related matters, where only 1.2 per cent of penalty estimated are for actual infringement of norms while 64 per cent are for late submission of certificates and issues like improper placing of signages.