Trai, TDSAT appear on collision course over tariff hike

Trai, TDSAT appear on collision course over tariff hike


New Delhi: The recent tariff hike by three private mobile operators appears to have ignited a turf war between Trai and TDSAT, with the regulator contending that the issue does not come under the tribunal’s jurisdiction.

“TDSAT has no right to pass any direction because the dispute involved is not covered under Section 14 of the Trai Act. TDSAT could only entertain against the Trai order," Additional Solicitor General Vikas Singh, appearing for the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India.

During a hearing in the tribunal, Trai also said it was not the right time to step in as price hike was done only recently. Admitting the petition filed by Delhi-based NGO Telecom Watchdog against the tariff hike, the Telecom Disputes Settlement and Appellate Tribunal issued notices to Trai and Bharti Airtel, Vodafone-Essar and Idea Cellular.

Last week, TDSAT had pulled up Trai for not intervening in the issue as the price hike had direct bearing on users. On Trai’s remark that it was not the right time to step in, a TDSAT bench headed by Justice Arun Kumar said: “Keep this aside... its a matter of consumer interest. Do something, otherwise players would resort to tariffs hike constantly."

Later, Trai sought to justify the present prices, saying that due to intense competition call charges have come down from Rs16 a minute a few years ago to one rupee at present. “Apart from roaming everything is going down. And there is forbearance policy (means tariffs are market-driven) but we are looking into the issue," Singh said.