New Delhi: The Delhi high court on Wednesday asked the Union government and the telecom regulator to respond to a petition challenging?a regulation that limits the number of messages sent through a SIM in a day to 200.

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The public interest litigation (PIL) was filed by Anil Kumar, secretary of the non-governmental organization Telecom Watchdog, challenging the rule as “arbitrary".

“This restriction of Trai is arbitrary, wholly unnecessary, violates fundamental freedom of citizens and is against democratic norms," reads the petition, filed through counsel Prashant Bhushan.

In June, Trai had issued the new rules regarding unsolicited commercial communications or spam?communications.

The rules prescribed harsh penalties for telemarketers who sent out spam and also limited the number of SMSes per SIM to 100 per day. This was increased to 200 per day on 5 September. Telemarketers have called the rules harsh.

“Under the garb of controlling unrestricted unsolicited commercial communications (UCC), Trai has barred common users from sending more than 200 SMS (short message service) per day," the petition said. “SMS cap has been imposed in a non-transparent manner as prior consultation with all the stakeholders is necessary to fulfil the requirement of transparency mandated under the Trai Act."

The rules have curtailed spam SMSes, but the matter is still unresolved. A number of telemarketers have moved their business to international telecom operators that send messages through gateways that cannot be technically restricted by Indian authorities.

PTI contributed to this story.