New telecom penalty regime likely to be in place in June

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Telecom operators can expect some relief in June from the harsh penalties imposed on them even for minor violations as the Department of Telecom is expected to notify the new relaxed rules by this month-end.

"The Department is working on the language and details (of new penalty rules). It will be notified by end of this month," a DoT official told PTI.

The new scheme is likely to bring some relief to telecom operators, who rue that at present the maximum penalty of Rs 50 crore is imposed even for minor mistakes.

"Officials fear that their integrity will be challenged if they impose lesser penalty than maximum penalty. The new rule will help them in taking clear and safe decision," another official said.

An inter-ministerial panel, the Telecom Commission, had approved the new penalty regime, which will be slab-based and ranges between Rs 1 lakh and Rs 50 crore.

Warnings can lead to penalty of Rs 1 lakh, minor violations with Rs 1 crore penalty, moderate (Rs 5 crore), major (Rs 20 crore) and severe (Rs 50 crore), official sources said.

The DoT panel had suggested examining violations in the light of their impact on the national exchequer, customers, public interest, national security, policy guidelines etc.

Repeat violations and the impacted service area(s) will be taken into consideration while imposing any levy, the DoT report has suggested.

The panel had suggested that after examining these parameters, violations can be categorised under functional classifications to measure their impact like company level, commercial, network, equipment, technical, service, operations, security and finance.

Industry estimates suggest that the DoT has imposed total penalties of Rs 6,850 crore on telecom companies at mid-2013. These include fines for minor violations like late submission of papers and absence of placards on mobile towers.


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