Predatory pricing: TDSAT reserves order on TRAI norms

The regulator’s order prohibits companies from discriminating between different segments of consumers on the basis of tariffs offered to them.

By: ENS Economic Bureau | New Delhi | Published: April 18, 2018 2:41:03 am
TRAI public WiFi proposal, telecom department, public WiFi services, internet services costs, Digital India mission, WiFi access points, BharatNet programme Bharti and Idea moved TDSAT against Trai after the regulator defined predatory pricing.

After hearing the arguments from all the parties, the Telecom Disputes Settlement and Appellate Tribunal (TDSAT) on Tuesday reserved its order on Bharti Airtel and Idea Cellular’s plea seeking a stay on the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India’s (Trai) regulation on predatory pricing.

The regulator’s order prohibits companies from discriminating between different segments of consumers on the basis of tariffs offered to them. Bharti and Idea moved the TDSAT against the Trai’s 63rd amendment to the Telecommunication Tariff Order where the regulator defined predatory pricing for the first time and also amended the definition of ascertaining a significant market player.

Arguing on behalf of Bharti Airtel, senior advocate Gopal Jain pointed out that the Trai order was a “drastic change” in policy and amended a 15-year old regime, thereby seeking an interim stay on the regulation till such a time a final verdict was arrived at by the TDSAT. On the other hand, representing Trai at the hearing, Additional Solicitor General Tushar Mehta said that an interim injunction will not be in public interest. Aditya Birla Group company Idea Cellular told the tribunal that as a minimum interim relief, it should disallow Trai from taking any coercive action against the companies till the final verdict was given.

As per the new regulation, Trai can levy a penalty of Rs 50 lakh per violation per circle if a tariff is found to be predatory. Last month, the Madras High Court, in a case filed by Vodafone India against certain clauses of the tariff order, told Trai not to take any action against the operator till its next hearing.

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