Bharti Airtel on Thursday dragged Reliance Jio to the Telecom Disputes Settlement and Appellate Tribunal (TDSAT) alleging that the company had flouted the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India’s (Trai) advise by not revoking its Summer Surprise offer announced on March 31. Through the Summer Surprise offer, Jio was offering its customers free services for 84 days, which included 1 GB data per day upon payment of Rs 303 by April 15. However, on April 6, the company announced that since Trai has advised it to stop the offer, it has decided to do so but those who had come on board would continue to get the free services. Further, the company also said that it would take a few days to completely stop the offer as it was operationally not possible to stop it immediately.
In an interim application filed on Thursday, Bharti argued that when the regulator has asked for a tariff package to be stopped as it did not meet the regulatory norms, how can it be provided to the consumers who have come on board? If something is patently wrong it needs to be revoked completely, Bharti argued. Further, it also said that Jio not immediately stopping the offer was also in violation of the regulator’s advisory.
By the time Jio announced that it was withdrawing the offer, it had already notched up more than 72 million subscribers under the plan. Its total user base is over 100 million. It officially stopped the offer on April 11.
Bharti has also petitioned that Trai be asked to furnish all records of discussion on the matter before the tribunal so that the entire process of decision-making can be transparently reviewed. As is known, Trai has so far not issued any official statement regarding the offer; it was Jio which announced that it was withdrawing the offer as advised by the regulator.
You may also like to watch:
The tribunal briefly heard the matter on Thursday and fixed April 20 as the next date of hearing. The interim application has been clubbed with the main petition of Bharti, on which hearing is on and which alleges that Trai was a mute spectator in allowing Jio to continue with its welcome offer beyond the stipulated 90 days. It has also alleged that Trai erred in declaring that Jio’s tariffs were non-predatory, non-discriminatory and IUC compliant.
Legal observers said that in the course of hearing on the matter, even Jio’s new offer announced on April 11 — Dhan Dhana Dhan — would come under question. This is because both offers — Summer Surprise and Dhan Dhana Dhan — are the same, with the only difference being that the former had the term “complimentary” which the latter does not have. Under Dhan Dhana Dhan, Jio is offering 1 GB data for 84 days upon payment of Rs 309.