Vodafone India today moved Delhi High Court alleging that telecom regulator TRAI had failed to prohibit “blatant violation” of its tariff orders, directions and regulations by Reliance Jio Infocomm Ltd (RJIO) by permitting it to continue with its free offers.
Justice Sanjeev Sachdeva, before whom the matter came up, listed the matter for hearing on February one as RJIO had not been made a party in the matter, saying any order the court passes would affect the telecom company.
Thereafter, on the oral plea of Vodafone, RJIO was made a party.
Vodafone has claimed that the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) has also failed to implement Department of Telecommunications’ (DoT) circulars which lay down that all tariffs must be compliant of inter-connection usage charges (IUC), non-discriminatory and non-predatory.
“That the free i.e. zero tariff plan/promotional offer of said Operator (Jio) 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.
“It is submitted that the said promotional offer was and continues to be in blatant violation of cardinal regulatory principles as IUC charges being the floor for the retail tariffs,” the telecom major has said in its petition.
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Vodafone has contended in its plea that TRAI itself in 2002 had told all telecom service providers that “promotional tariffs cannot exceed 90 days upper limit”.
“The free offerings were illegal and also violates the 90 days upper limit fixed for any promotional offer (with) 90 days expiring on September 18, 2016 (even if counted from June 21, 2016) and in any event on December 3, 2016. The respondent (TRAI) ignored petitioner’s representations and effectively deal with the same.
“The subsequent promotion offer proposed to be ending on March 31, 2017 is also violative of, inter alia, the said principle of ‘floor’, as also the said 90 days upper limit, … and the respondent has not taken any steps to stop the blatant violation by the said Operator and continues to act in a non-transparent manner,” the petition has alleged.
Vodafone has further claimed that due to TRAI’s “arbitrary, irregular action/inaction”, RJIO, “in the garb” of ‘test service’ or preview offer, amassed millions of subscribers by offering them free services during the so- called test period.
“Thereafter, the said Operator launched its services commercially with effect from September 5, 2016 and continued to offer free services under the garb of promotional offer known as ‘Welcome Offer’ and promised free services to its consumers until December 31, 2016,” the petition has said.
Vodafone’s plea comes after Bharti Airtel and Idea moved the Telecom Disputes Settlement Appellate Tribunal (TDSAT) alleging inaction by TRAI for RJIO’s alleged violation of the tariff orders and regulations.
The pleas of Airtel and Idea are likely to be taken up for hearing by TDSAT on February 1.
In its petition, Vodafone has sought direction to TRAI to “fully implement/ensure compliance of each and all regulatory and legal principles” laid down in the tariff orders, directions and regulations by the regulator or any other authority as well as to ensure that RJIO does not violate them.