Trai moves Supreme Court seeking transfer of Idea plea to Delhi High Court

By: | Published: April 5, 2016 1:41 AM

Telecom regulator Trai on Monday moved the Supreme Court seeking transfer of the Idea Cellular petition from the Gujarat High Court to the Delhi High Court, which is hearing a similar plea by Vodafone Mobile Service and its group companies.

Telecom regulator Trai on Monday moved the Supreme Court seeking transfer of the Idea Cellular petition from the Gujarat High Court to the Delhi High Court, which is hearing a similar plea by Vodafone Mobile Service and its group companies.

The telecom operators have challenged Trai’s Telecommunication Interconnect Usage Charges (Eleventh Amendment)

Regulations 2015, that came into effect from March 1, 2015, by which it has fixed termination charges for wireline-to-wireless as zero paise and wireless-to-wireless at `0.14 per minute.

The Delhi HC has sought Trai’s response in the Vodafone case. Another similar petition by Bharti Airtel is also pending before the Delhi HC.

Interconnection Usage Charges (IUC) or termination charges are payable by one telco, whose subscriber makes a call, to another whose subscriber receives the call. The charge is payable by the first for using the second’s network.

Trai said the impugned regulations — which eliminate the Fixed Termination Charge as well as Mobile Termination Charge for calls to and from fixed lines altogether, respectively, and the MTC for calls between the wireless phones were reduced to `0.14 per minute — have been challenged on substantially the same grounds, thus should be decided together “so as to avoid any conflicting judicial opinions”.

The telcos had termed the regulations “illegal, bad in fact and in law, arbitrary and in gross violation of the principles of natural justice, beyond the functions of Trai”. They said the February 23, 2015, regulations were “ultra vires Trai Act and were contrary to the object and purpose of its provisions to the extent that it arbitrarily and in a non-transparent manner fixes the termination charges”.

They claim that the fixation of terms of interconnectivity, which includes the termination charge by Trai, cannot be zero where costs are incurred by the terminating operator and therefore, the regulations fixing the charge as zero is ultra vires the provisions of the Trai Act.

Besides, Trai itself has stated in its 2001 regulations that the interconnection charges shall be fixed on cost basis to provide recompense to the operators for work done for termination of calls on their network, Vodafone stated before the Delhi HC.

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