The Supreme Court on Monday agreed to hear a plea by the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) against the 13 December ruling of the Telecom Disputes Settlement and Appellate Tribunal (TDSAT) quashing the regulator’s tariff order on predatory pricing.
A bench headed by justice R.F. Nariman issued notice to telecom companies Bharti Airtel Ltd, Vodafone, and Reliance Jio Infocomm Ltd.
Companies such as Airtel and Vodafone contended that these rules on predatory pricing would give undue advantage to new players such as Reliance Jio Infocomm.
The telecom regulator had, through its order, sought to introduce the concepts of “significant market power" and “non predation" and also permit non-reporting of “segmented offers/discounts" by telecom service providers.
TDSAT had, while setting aside Trai’s Telecommunication Tariff (Sixty Third Amendment) Order, 2018 (1 of 2018) of 16 February, 2018, highlighted the need for “objective" yardsticks to introduce vital changes relating to SMP and non-predation including “variable cost" concept.
“The yardsticks must be objective and known to all telecom service providers or else the task must be left to be dealt with under the competition laws so that a competent authority can decide a complaint alleging predation," the appellate tribunal said.
It also found the consultation process adopted by the telecom regulator to develop a new concept of SMP and non-predation ineffective.
Trai, however, contended that the appellate tribunal had, by setting aside its tariff order, exceeded its jurisdiction and thus virtually dismantled the statutory framework in force since 1999.
“The impugned judgment seriously acts against the interest of the consumers and deserves to be interfered with and ought to be set aside," it said.