SC says no to interim order on telecoms call drop case

Smartphone user in France
The Supreme Court has refused to pass any interim order on COAI’s plea challenging TRAI’s decision to compensate subscribers for call drops.

The new date of hearing on the matter is slated for March 10, 2016.

COAI expects to approach the TRAI to request that implementation by the industry be kept in abeyance until the Supreme Court hears and decides on the matter until March 10, 2016.

Two telecom industry bodies — Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI) and the Association of Unified Service Provider of India — challenged the Telecom Regulator Authority of India’s (TRAI) decision making it mandatory for telecom companies to compensate subscribers from January 1, 2016.

The Supreme Court bench of Justice Kurian Joseph and Justice Rohinton Fali Nariman — observing that prima facie we find nothing ultra vires, did not pass any interim order, saying they would hear the matter on March 10 and then decide.

As senior counsel Kapil Sibal sought to address the court, the bench observed that call drop was because of your default and you must pay.

Incidentally, Kapil Sibal was the former telecom and IT minister when the Congress-led UPA government was at the center.

Appearing for the government, Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi opposed the plea for interim relief and said: “I am saying there should not be interim order. I have succeeded in the high court. This is in consumer interest.”

With the court not passing any interim order, Kapil Sibal said there should not be any coercive steps by the regulator against the telecom companies.

As he said that they have been called on March 9, the bench said they can seek an adjournment. “You ask them to adjourn the matter,” the bench told Kapil Sibal.

The COAI along with the Association of Unified Telecom Service Provider of India has challenged the Delhi High Court’s order upholding the TRAI decision to penalise the telecom companies for call drops.

COAI represents telecom network operators such as Bharti Airtel, Idea Cellular, Vodafone, among others.