Reliance Jio free offer should not be extended, Airtel tells TDSAT

Airtel asks TDSAT to direct TRAI to ensure that Reliance Jio does not provide its free voice and data plan beyond 31 December


Reliance Jio first launched an inaugural free voice and data plan beginning 4 September and earlier this month extended it till 31 March. Photo: Mint
Reliance Jio first launched an inaugural free voice and data plan beginning 4 September and earlier this month extended it till 31 March. Photo: Mint

New Delhi: Bharti Airtel on Friday moved telecom dispute tribunal Telecom Disputes Settlement and Appellate Tribunal (TDSAT) against Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) allowing Mukesh Ambani-led Reliance Jio to continue its free promotional offer beyond the stipulated 90 days, charging the regulator of being a “mute spectator” to violations.

In its 25-page petition before the TDSAT, Aitel asked the quasi-judicial body to direct TRAI to ensure that Reliance Jio does not provide its free voice and data plan beyond 31 December.

It alleged that violation of TRAI’s tariff orders has been continuing since March 2016, causing “significant prejudice and day-to-day loss” to it and “affecting its network” as it has bear asymmetric traffic due to the free call offer by Reliance Jio.

ALSO READ: RCom deleveraging fails to impress investors

Reliance Jio first launched an inaugural free voice and data plan beginning 4 September and earlier this month extended it till 31 March. Giving reasons for its petition, Airtel said the “free services” continue in blatant violation of the TRAI’s directions, Tariff Orders and the Regulations with “TRAI as a mute spectator”.

When the petition was mentioned before a bench of TDSAT on Friday, Reliance Jio’s counsel asked to be impleaded as a party to the case. TRAI submitted that it needs 10 more days to take a decision.

TDSAT directed TRAI to come back with its decision on the next day and directed Reliance Jio to file an impleadment application. Next date of hearing has been fixed for 6 January, 2017. Airtel in the petition alleged that TRAI in its decision dated 20 October “erroneously concluded” that since Reliance Jio’s promotional offer of free services was only valid till 3 December, it is consistent with the “90 days” directions of TRAI.

“The TRAI further without affording any reasoning baldly, cryptically and in a non-transparent manner in violation of Section 11(4) of the TRAI Act concluded that the Tariff Plans offered by the said telecom service provider (TSP) are not non-compliant with Interconnection Usage Charges (IUC) and are not predatory and discriminatory at present.

The impugned decision of TRAI is thus bad in law and deserves to be quashed,” it said. The appeal, it said, has been filed against TRAI’s 20 October decision as well as against its “continued failure to fulfil its statutory obligation” under TRAI Act by prohibiting the blatant violation of its own Tariff Orders and Regulations.

More From Livemint