Idea in HC against TRAI’s Rs 950 cr fine imposition
New Delhi, Jan 24 : Idea Cellular today moved Delhi High Court against TRAI’s recommendation to impose penalty of Rs 950 crore on the telecom firm for allegedly not providing interconnection to Reliance Jio (RJIO), even as DoT said the plea was premature.
The Department of Telecommunications (DoT) claimed before a bench of Chief Justice G Rohini and Justice Sangita Dhingra Sehgal that Idea’s petition was not maintainable as the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) had only given a recommendation.
Additional Solicitor General (ASG) Sanjay Jain, appearing for DoT, opposed maintainability of the plea, saying it was premature since no action had been taken yet on the telecom regulator’s October 21, 2016 recommendation.
He said once DoT takes a decision, it could be an appealable order only then.
The bench, thereafter, issued notice to TRAI and DoT and asked them to file affidavits on the issue of maintainability of Idea’s plea before the next date of hearing on February 21.
Idea, in its plea, has claimed that it has complied with and met the requirements of RJIO for points of interconnections (PoIs).
It has said that as of January 19 this year, it has allocated 19,175 PoIs to RJIO and contended that congestion and call failures were a consequence of RJIO’s “gross underestimation” of the volume, traffic and duration of calls on its network due to its free voice calls and data offer.
In its plea, Idea has also contended that there is inconsistency between TRAI’s Interconnection Regulations and Quality of Service Regulations.
In December last year, Vodafone had challenged TRAI’s recommendation to DoT to impose Rs 1050 crore penalty on it on RJIO’s complaint.
Vodafone had contended in its plea that TRAI did not have the power to recommend imposition of penalty and can only recommend revocation of licence for breach of licence conditions.
The matter is pending before another bench of the high court where the DoT and TRAI have contended that the plea was not maintainable.
TRAI had recommended imposition of Rs 50 crore penalty per circle on Airtel, Vodafone and Idea, which came to Rs 1050 crore each on the first two for their 21 circles and Rs 950 crore on the third for 19 circles.
The regulatory authority was of the view that denial of interconnection by existing operators like Airtel, Idea and Vodafone, to RJIO “appears to be with the ulterior motive to stifle competition and is anti-consumer”.