An odd half-measure from the TRAI, allowing restoration of numbers that have been blocked because of inclusion in spam messages by paying an arbitrary amount of Rs 500 and above, but not more than Rs 5 lakh. As we had pointed out earlier, the blocking of numbers within reported spam messages had created a situation where users might find their number blocked even though they might not have anything to do with the message. At the same time, we understand the rationale behind this move, because the client also has to be made to pay.

Here’s the problem with this approach: It’s too arbitrary. The subscriber needs to make a request to the TRAI for restoration of number upon disconnection. Arbitrariness create a situation of corruption. The regulation doesn’t indicate what processes have been instituted by the TRAI to prevent misuse of such arbitrary power, but a regulation that provides for discretion, in our opinion, should not be created.

The guilty might not be punished: How are we to know whether the person whose number is disconnected indulged in fraud or not? The innocent might end up being punished, and number not reinstated. If there was a mistake made, why should there a charge at all? If someone includes my number in a spam message, and the recipient files a complaint, what is my crime? Why should my number be disconnected? I’m first made to go through the hassle of my number being disconnected, and then asked to pay for it?

How the TRAI should approach this: Create a list of numbers that are blacklisted from being included in commercial communications (promotional or transactional). This way, no number is disconnected. It’s only barred from commercial communication.

The regulation

Restoration of telecom resources—If a subscriber, whose telecom resources have been disconnected for contravention of the provision of clause (b) of sub-regulation (11) of regulation 19, makes a request, within thirty days of such disconnection, to the Authority for restoration of his telecom resources and satisfies the Authority that it has taken reasonable steps to prevent recurrence of such contravention, the Authority may order restoration of the telecom resources of such subscriber on payment of an amount of five hundred rupees to the Authority for restoration of each telecom resource, subject to the condition that the total amount payable by the subscriber shall not exceed five lakh rupees.”