Vodafone India has filed a petition with the Delhi HC alleging that the telecom regulator TRAI failed to keep a check on Reliance Jio and its free offers, which ‘blatantly violated’ existing tariff regulations, reports ET. The case was heard yesterday by the bench but it postponed the proceedings till February as Jio was not named as a party in the case. Vodafone, however, included Jio as a party and the bench will now hear both company’s statements next month.
Note that this is Vodafone’s second petition in the Delhi HC. The telco had earlier filed a petition with the Delhi HC challenging TRAI’s Rs 1050 crore penalty for allegedly violating license norms by denying interconnection points to new telco entrant Reliance Jio.
According to the report, Vodafone mentioned in court that TRAI has failed to go by Department of Telecommunication’s circulars which directed that all tariffs should be in line with interconnection usage charges, non-discriminatory and non-predatory.
“…the free i.e. zero tariff plan/promotional offer of said Operator with no charges at all for services, is ipso facto non-compliant with the ‘floor’ as stipulated by TRAI in its own tariff orders, is IUC non-compliant, predatory and discriminatory and thus violates the TRAIs tariff orders and regulations…” Idea said in its petition.
The free tariff offer, which was first launched by Jio in September was supposed to end by December 3rd, 2016 as per TRAI’s regulation which sets a 90-day limit for any promotional pack, Vodafone said. The telco has requested TRAI to “fully implement/ensure compliance of each and all regulatory and legal principles” pertaining to tariff regulations and blamed it for not taking any action against Jio.
Airtel, Idea also filed cases against TRAI and Jio
Apart from Vodafone, Bharti Airtel and Idea have both filed petitions with the Telecom Disputes Settlement Appellate Tribunal (TDSAT) alleging that the TRAI took no action against new entrant Reliance for violating regulations on promotional offers. Both Airtel and Idea alleged that TRAI was “perpetuating illegality” by allowing Jio to “game” the interconnection regulation with its free calls and data offer.
As the top telecom operators fight it in court alleging regulatory violations Jio’s side, it has also been blocking points of interconnect to Jio. The Mukesh Ambani-owned then went on to file a complaint with the Competition Commission of India (CCI) claiming that Airtel, Idea, and Vodafone have formed a cartel to restrict its operations by denying interconnection points.