The Supreme Court on Monday asked Reliance Jio Infocomm to pay Tata Communications 70 crore within two weeks for use of the facilities at cable landing stations (CLS) provided by the latter. A bench led by Chief Justice NV Ramana, while directing RJio to pay Tata Communications within two weeks, also asked the latter not to disrupt its cable lending station services. Tata Communications had demanded147 crore from RJio towards towards access facilitation charge (AFC) and co-location charge (CLC) for use of the facilities at CLS between January 1, 2013 and November 27, 2018. RJIo had also sought refund of Rs 103.57 crore with interest being the excess amount paid to Tata Communication during the period.
The dispute is over the method used to calculate charges for use of Tata Communications’ and Bharti Airtel’s CLS by Reliance Jio during January 1, 2013 (the effective date of the International Telecommunication Cable Landing Stations Access Facilitation Charges and Co-location Charges Regulations 2012) till November 1l, 2018 (date of notification of the 2018 amendment Regulations).
The CLS charges include fee like access facilitation charges, operation and maintenance charges and co-location charges in respect of access to submarine CLS that telecom companies provide each other.
Challenging the TDSAT’s April 2020 order that rejected its plea, RJIo has alleged that it was charged at the substantially higher CLS-RIO rates approved by the Trai under the regime prevalent under the 2007 Regulations. It wants the charges to be calculated in accordance with the 2018 Trai rules.
While it alleged that Tata Communications is liable to refund 147 crore and Bharti Airtel has to pay122.71 crore, RJio alleged that Tata Communcations’ demand is “irreconcilable and dissonant with its own position with regard to the charges for AFC and CLC payable for the period”. It alleged that Airtel had wrongly encashed its Rs 122.71 crore bank guarantee to secure its payment after the Madras High Court’s order of November 14, 2019, and the issue is under challenge before the apex court.