- Supreme Court of India directs Telecons to comply with TRAI’s demand of segment tariff details
- SC directs TRAI as well of making sure the info provided by telecos is kept confidential
- The three judges bench of SC was led by Chief Justice of India SA Bobde
On Friday, a three judges bench of the Supreme Court of India upheld the plea filed by the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) through which it seeks details from Bharti Airtel Limited and Vodafone Idea Limited on the segmented tariff or specific offers for some of their customers.
The three judges bench which was led by the Chief Justice of India S A Bobde held that it was well within the powers of TRAI to seek details from the telecos and observed that the information which has been asked by the regulatory body was in light of the principle of transparency and non-discrimination, and not prima-facie illegal or unjustified.
The bench which also comprised of Justices A S Bopanna and V Ramasubramanian, directed the telcos to disclose in details the information sought by TRAI.
Additionally, the bench had asked TRAI to make sure that all the information which hasbeen provided by the telcos is kept confidential and not disclosed to any third person, especially to their competitors.
On the 27th of October, the three-judge bench had reserved the order in the matter after the conclusion of a detailed hearing of arguments from both the parties.
TRAI has made it compulsory for the telecommunication operators to disclose details on all such plans, however, both Vodafone Idea and Airtel came in front to oppose the decision of the regulator and sought relief from the Telecom Disputes Settlement and Appellate Tribunal (TDSAT) claiming that these offers were not tariff plans and, thus, did not need disclosures.
Their competitor Reliance Jio Infocomm Limited and state-owned mobile operators have complied with the order from TRAI. The regulator was approached by Mukesh Ambani-led Reliance Jio which had complained about the offers being made by Vodafone and Airtel for a limited set of customers.
The TDSAT ruled in favour of Airtel and Vodafone Idea, which argued that TRAI’s order would violate commercial confidentiality and help rivals poach their subscribers. The appellate tribunal said TRAI has no authority to call for such general information from operators.
Following this, TRAI moved to the Supreme Court of India and challenged the order passed by the TDSAT. The apex court had refused to stay the TDSAT verdict.
The teleco regulator then modified its order to seek information on segmented offers for a limited period. The Chief Justice of India, SA Bobde observed that the TDSAT order on the issue was ambiguous.
“Segmented offers are promotions and discounts made to customers showing an inclination towards shifting to other telcos. To retain such users, telcos offer superior data speeds, preferential customer status, access to over-the-top (OTT) streaming platforms such as Netflix and Amazon Prime Video, use of airport lounges, handset deals and hotel bookings, among others,” said a report.