New Delhi: The Supreme Court has agreed to hear a plea by the Cellular Operators' Association of India (COAI) and Association of Unified Telecom Service Provider of India challenging the TRAI's order making it mandatory for telcos to compensate subscribers for call drops from January 1, 2016.
The SC bench of Chief Justice TSThakur and Justice Uday Umesh Lalit, while admitting the pleas filed through senior lawyer Kapil Sibal, asked, "Why don't you correct your system itself so that you won't have to pay compensation?"
As Sibal said that service providers have crores of customers and under the regulations, "We are permitted 2 percent call drops", Chief Justice Thakur said: "It is more than that.." and posted the case for Friday.
The Delhi High Court had on February 29 upheld the order of the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) making it mandatory for cellular operators to compensate subscribers for call drops. A division bench of Chief Justice G Rohini and Justice Jayant Nath ordered that telecom operators would have to compensate subscribers for first three call drops.
The court dismissed the plea of telecom operators for a stay on TRAI's compensation policy, announced on October 16, 2015, for call drops under which a rupee will be credited to the mobile users' account for every call drop (restricted to three per day) starting January 1, 2016.
Meanwhile GSM body COAI in a statement has said that it recognises the inconvenience to customers due to call drops and is committed making the necessary investment and improvements to its networks, including working with the government to obtain required cell sites on government land and buildings.
COAI, in a statement, said it requested the apex court "to consider its prayer that the TRAI Regulation on Call Drops is ultra vires the TRAI Act in that the act does not give TRAI adjudicatory powers and hence TRAI cannot grant compensation".
"Further, the TRAI regulation is also ultra vires the Telegraph Act of 1885 under which mobile companies are licensed wherein 100 percent coverage of the licensed geography is not required. Hence call drops emanating from these areas should not be subject to compensation. Finally COAI represents that it is impossible to identify all the reasons for call drops and hence implementation of TRAI order is not feasible," it added.