Home / Companies / News /  Delhi HC denies relief to Indiamart in Trai’s new SMS rules case

The Delhi high court on Monday denied interim relief to e-commerce company Indiamart Intermesh Ltd, which had sought direction to scrap a part of the new SMS regulations that have been rolled out to check spam messages and protect customers from online frauds.

In a writ petition, Indiamart, which provides online listing services to businesses across India, said a regulation in Telecom Regulatory Authority of India’s (Trai’s) new SMS framework is “unconstitutional".

It said regulation 25 of the Telecom Commercial Communication Customer Preference Regulations (TCCCPR), 2018, violates Trai Act, 1997, as it applies to business-to-business (B2B) messages. Clause 25 of TCCCPR provides a complaint mechanism and mandates telecom operators to take action against the sender of unsolicited commercial communication (UCC).

Trai had issued the TCCCPR in July 2018 to “effectively deal with the nuisance of spam". The rules prohibit unregistered senders from initiating commercial messages, while registered companies are prevented from sending fraudulent messages to customers.

Indiamart sought direction from the high court for Trai to amend the definition of customers in TCCCPR that would distinguish between commercial and non-commercial subscribers.

The high court “must not allow" telecom service providers to impose penalty on companies that do not comply with the new SMS regulations and implement them, it said.

“It is submitted that the respondent (Trai) by delegating adjudicatory powers to the access providers (telcos) and by not making reasonable classification and not acting on petitioner’s (Indiamart’s) representation, is acting arbitrarily and abusing its power and this court must not allow the same," Indiamart said in its petition.

With no clarity on commercial and non-commercial recipients, a blanket regulation has been implemented by telcos, as a result of which Indiamart is facing problems in sending SMSes to its B2B customers, said a lawyer aware of the proceedings.

“The high court only took cognizance of Indiamart’s plea today. It has issued a notice to Trai in the matter and asked the regulator to respond before the next hearing," said the lawyer cited above. The high court has adjourned the matter to 30 April.

On Friday, Trai said companies that do not implement the new regulations for sending commercial SMS to consumers within three days of its notice will be prohibited from doing so. It reiterated the objective of the new SMS regulations, which were suspended by Trai on 9 March after their implementation by telecom operators sparked chaos, leading to SMSes and one-time passwords getting dropped, resulting in failed transactions.

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