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Face music for unwanted calls, HC tells ICICI

Unsolicited telemarketing calls trouble everyone — even judges. During a hearing on Wednesday, a senior judge of Delhi High Court gave vent to his ire on ICICI Bank for making “unsolicited marketing calls” to him.

Written by Krishnadasrajagopal | New Delhi |
October 23, 2008 12:42:02 am

Unsolicited telemarketing calls trouble everyone — even judges. During a hearing on Wednesday, a senior judge of Delhi High Court gave vent to his ire on ICICI Bank for making “unsolicited marketing calls” to him.

“I receive calls at all time of the day from ICICI Bank,” Justice Vikramjit Sen said. “I do not know what business you get out of such calls…. You are a nuisance and have to face the music for making these unsolicited calls.”

The division bench was hearing an application moved by ICICI Bank for a stay on revival of contempt of court proceedings before the Delhi State Consumer Commission on the basis of a petition by advocate Nivedita Sharma. Sharma had filed her appeal in response to the “menace of unsolicited commercial telemarketing calls” and divulging “private and confidential information”.

On December 26, 2006 the consumer commission had levied a Rs 12.5-lakh penalty on the bank for making nuisance calls. Though the High Court subsequently stayed the Commission’s decision on September 11, 2007, the court had warned the bank against making “unsolicited marketing calls”.

The court had also warned the bank that the stay order should not be misinterpreted as “a licence to continue making unsolicited calls to customers”. The High Court had also given customers liberty to move the consumer commission if they continued to receive unwanted marketing calls from ICICI Bank.

“I moved the Commission because I still got calls from the bank despite registering with the ‘Do Not Call’ registry,” Sharma told Newsline. “The calls were in clear violation of the consumer commission’s order.”

The bank contended before the High Court bench today that Sharma was merely misusing the “liberty granted to her by the court” to seek relief with the consumer commission if still pestered by unsolicited calls. Terming her current litigation before the Commission as “misconceived”, the bank argued that it was impossible for Sharma to receive any unsolicited call as her name had been “updated” on the ‘Do Not Call’ registry.

At this point Justice Sen sought to prove the bank wrong by citing his personal example. “Do you think you are above the law?” the judge asked. “Who is your highest ranking officer in northern India… bring him here; let him explain these calls.”

The bench then kept aside the case for a while to give the counsel time to summon the concerned bank official. Later, the court gave some reprieve to the bank to file a suitable response by the next date of hearing.

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