TDSAT to telcos: Pay penalty on graded scales

There is a dispute between the operators and the Department of Telecom on the interpretation of "graded scales".

Written by Agencies | New Delhi | Published: March 4, 2012 4:39 pm

Telecom tribunal TDSAT has asked private operators,on whom Department of Telecommunications (DoT) has imposed penalty for not reverifying prepaid connections in Assam and North East,to pay 25 per cent of the fine as per the old slab system.

Clarifying its earlier order,TDSAT said the operators would pay 25 per cent of the penalty imposed by DoT following “graded scales”,which invite penalty based on the percentage of subscribers unverified.

There is a dispute between the operators and the Department of Telecom on the interpretation of “graded scales”.

In April 2009,DoT had introduced a “graded scale” of penalty,based on the percentage of correct verifications reported.

If the percentage of correct subscriber was above 95 per cent,then penalty was Rs 1,000 per unverified subscriber; between 90 to 95 per cent it was Rs 5,000 and below 80 per cent was is Rs 50,000.

The dispute is for the figure above 91 per cent. In cases where the correct verification was up to 91 per cent,penalty was Rs 1,000 per unverified subscriber next for 5 per cent. For the rest 4 per cent,it was Rs 5,000.

However,DoT by a new circular of February 3,said that telcos would have to pay Rs 5,000 for the entire 9 per cent of unverified subscribers.

In an interim order on February 6,the Telecom Disputes Settlement and Appellate Tribunal had asked the operators to pay one-fourth of the penalty imposed on them. The operators are — Dishnet Wireless,Vodafone,Bharti Airtel,Idea Cellular and Reliance Telecom.

TDSAT’s clarification came over a bunch of petitions filed by them,along with their GSM industry lobby group COAI,seeking stay on the penalty imposed by the DoT’s Telecom Enforcement Resource and Monitoring cell.

In orders on similar matter related to other telecom circles,on May 18 and June 3,the tribunal had said that the operators would pay penalty in accordance with their own interpretation of “graded scale”.

However,while the passing interim order,the tribunal had left the issue pertaining to the calculation of penalty,following which the operators sought clarification.

“We would like to clarify our orders dated May 18,2011 and June 3,2011 passed in Petition No. 252 of 2011 will be applicable to these petitions also as a matter of principle,” said the tribunal.

The government’s directive to reverify has been challenged by the COAI,contending that it was prepared “without any application of mind” and “in a totally casual manner”.

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