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traiThe Delhi High Court is likely to pronounce tomorrow its verdict on pleas challenging tariff order of Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) making it mandatory for cellular operators to compensate subscribers for call drops from January onwards.

A Bench of Chief Justice G. Rohini and Justice Jayant Nath would pass the judgement on a bunch of petitions filed by the Cellular Operators Association of India, the association of Unified Telecom Service Providers of India and 21 telecom operators, including Vodafone, Bharti Airtel and Reliance.

TRAI had earlier told the high court that consumers have a right to get compensated for call drops and this was different from the quality of service guidelines that cellular service providers have to follow under the licence conditions.

However, the telecom companies had argued that even if the consumers were facing a problem, a regulation without statutory backing cannot be created.

The telecom firms had claimed that everyone was prejudiced against them, while referring to some of the pleas filed by consumer groups in support of the TRAI’s October 16 regulation last year, which mandates cellular operators to pay consumers one rupee per call drop experienced on their networks, subject to a cap of Rs 3 a day.

The operators have sought quashing of the regulation.

TRAI had earlier termed the call drops as a “pervasive problem”, saying it amounted to “harassment” of consumers as well as breach of contract that telcos had with subscribers.

The service providers had contended that the TRAI’s call drop compensation regulation was a “knee-jerk reaction” which penalised them without proving any wrong-doing.

The telcos had termed the regulation as “arbitrary and whimsical” and contended that providing compensation to the consumers amounted to interfering with the companies’ tariff structure and this could be done only by an order and not a regulation.

Earlier in an affidavit, TRAI had told the court that a technical consultation paper was sent to all stakeholders, including telecom firms, on the call drops issue and all their representations were considered before the rule was made.

TRAI had on December 22 last year told the high court that no coercive steps would be taken against telecom firms till the next date of hearing on January 6 for not complying with the call drop compensation norms. — PTI

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