The Supreme Court orders telecommunications companies to provide TRAI with details of special tariffs

In an important direction, the Supreme Court on Friday ordered telecommunications companies to provide the regulatory authority TRAI with the details of the special tariffs and offers for consumers. A bank run by Chief Justice SA Bobde and Jusitces AS Bopanna and V Ramasubramanian, which allowed the Indian Telecommunications Regulatory Authority (TRAI) to apply provisionally, stated that the telecommunications companies were not seeking compliance with regulatory principles such as “transparency” and “non-discrimination” ” either illegal or unjustified “. “Given the … historical background, it cannot be said that what TRAI is now striving to ensure compliance with the regulatory principles for transparency, non-discrimination and non-predation is, at least at first sight, either illegal or completely unjustified.

“Therefore, the impact assessment is admissible and respondents (Bharti Airtel Ltd and others) are instructed to disclose information / details requested by the applicant / complainant (TRAI) regarding segmented offers,” the order states . It was TRAI’s duty and responsibility to ensure that “such information is kept confidential and not made available to competitors or anyone else,” the Supreme Court said.

TRAI made it mandatory for telecommunications operators to disclose information about any such plans. However, Airtel and Vodafone had spoken out against the decision and asked the Telecom Disputes Settlement and Appellate Tribunal (TDSAT) for relief, as these offers were not tariff plans and therefore no disclosure was required. Reliance Jio Infocomm Ltd and state cellular operators have complied with the TRAI regulation.

TDSAT decided against the regulation of the regulatory authority that TRAI was not authorized to request such general information from the mobile network operators. In its order, the Supreme Court pointed out that TRAI’s jurisdiction and authority to issue the Telecommunications Tariff Ordinance of February 16, 2018 was not “seriously disputed”.

“Although TRAI’s jurisdiction and authority appear to have been challenged in one of the appeals before TRAI, TDSAT did not make a categorical finding that TRAI had no jurisdiction and authority to request details of segmented offers.”

“TDSAT only found in the disputed order that segmented offers and discounts that are offered to existing customers in the normal course of business without discrimination within the target segment do not constitute a tariff plan and are therefore not required for reporting,” said the Apex court. Segmented offers are promotions and discounts for customers who tend to switch to other telecommunications companies.

To engage consumers, companies typically offer better data speeds, preferred customer status, and access to over-the-top streaming (OTT) platforms, among other things. Previously, the Delhi Supreme Court refused to interfere in the interim injunction of the Telecommunications Court TDSAT, with which the rule of the regulatory authority TRAI, which requires the reporting of customer-specific discounts and concessions, offered the selected subscribers of older service providers Airtel, Idea and Vodafone has been put on hold. It had refused to suspend the decision and said it would ask the tribunal to expedite the hearing of the pleas by Bharti Airtel and Idea Cellular against the TRAI rule.

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