The Telecom Disputes Settlement and Appellate Tribunal (TDSAT), a special court which looks into telecom cases, has asked regulator TRAI to “re-examine” its earlier stance that Reliance Jio’s free plans do not violate any regulations or appear to be discriminatory or predatory, reports PTI. It also ordered the TRAI today to file a response within two weeks after re-examining its earlier findings, according to the report.
The TDSAT was responding to the ongoing case involving top telecoms operators in the country, Reliance Jio, and the regulator TRAI itself. Rival operators Idea and Airtel earlier filed a case with TDSAT in January alleging that TRAI was “perpetuating illegality” by allowing Jio to “game” the interconnection regulation with its free calls and data offer. Idea termed TRAI as a “mute spectator” to Jio’s violation of the regulator’s own rule that a promo offer cannot be extended over a period of 90 days. Both operators said that under existing regulations Jio should have discontinued its promo offer on December 3rd, which equates to 90 days.
TRAI, however, told TDSAT last month that that Jio’s initial “Welcome Offer Pack” which expired on December is different from the currently active “Happy New Year offer” which has an FUP of 1GB per day, set to expire on March 31st. “These are two different promotional offers. One ended in December and the other is ending in March. So, there is no violation,” a TRAI official was quoted as saying to The Hindu last month.
Now since the TDSAT is requesting TRAI to re-examine its findings, it is vital to note that Jio’s free offers are yet to be deemed “within laws and regulations” and “non-predatory in nature” in a court of law.
Note that TRAI had earlier sought Attorney General’s view to examine whether Jio’s free offers violated one of its own regulation.
Vodafone’s petition against Jio in Delhi HC
Apart from Airtel and Idea, Vodafone India has another case with Delhi HC alleging that TRAI failed to keep a check on Jio and its free offers, which ‘blatantly violated’ existing tariff regulations. Vodafone also included Jio as a party in the case later. Vodafone also has a second petition filed in December last year which challenged TRAI’s Rs 1050 crore penalty for allegedly violating license norms by denying interconnection points to Jio. On the other hand, Jio had filed a complaint with the Competition Commission of India last November claiming that Airtel, Idea and Vodafone have formed a cartel to restrict its operations by denying interconnection points.