Delhi HC notice to govt in Vodafone inter-connection penalty case
New Delhi: The Delhi high court on Thursday issued notice to the Centre in a plea filed by Vodafone Mobile Services Ltd challenging the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India’s (Trai) recommendation to the Centre that a penalty of Rs50 crore per circle be imposed on the telecom company for violating terms and conditions relating to points of inter-connection among service providers.
With a presence in 21 circles, Vodafone could be liable to pay a total penalty of Rs1,050 crore.
Justice Sanjeev Sachdeva, however, refused to stay the execution of Trai’s recommendation.
On 21 October, Trai recommended to the department of telecommunications (DoT) after Reliance Jio Infocomm Ltd alleged that Vodafone and Bharti Airtel Ltd and Idea Cellular Ltd had refused to comply with inter-connection norms. The regulator also recommended a similar penalty for Airtel and Idea of Rs50 crore on each of their circles. Airtel and Idea have a presence in 21 and 19 circles, where points of inter-connect congestion exceeded the permissible limit of 0.5%, according to a Mint report of 22 October.
On 27 September, Trai had issued a show-cause notice to Vodafone and sought a response within 10 days on why it did not comply with inter-connection norms. Trai recommended imposition of penalty before Vodafone responded to the notice.
On 16 December, Vodafone moved the Delhi high court challenging Trai’s recommendation and contended it was arbitrary and unconstitutional.
Vodafone had also said that imposition of such penalty was not covered under the quality of service (QoS) regulations which allow a maximum fine of Rs50,000 for failure to meet service conditions.
The case will be heard next on 4 January.