The Delhi High Court Firmly Rejects Intervention in TRAI’s Rs 1050 crore penalty against VI

The Delhi High Court Firmly Rejects Intervention in TRAI’s Rs 1050 crore penalty against VI

The Delhi High Court recently made an important decision regarding TRAI’s recommendation to fine VI. The court declined to intervene in the Rs. 1,050 crore penalty imposed on two VI companies for allegedly denying Reliance Jio Infocomm Ltd (RJIL) interconnection. Technical Dost will dive into the details of this case.

The Telecom Disputes Settlement and Appellate Tribunal (TDSAT) was recognized by the high court as an expert body established under the TRAI Act to resolve telecom-related disputes. It stated that the TDSAT is already looking into the matter and declined to intervene.

TRAI’s Rs 1050 crore penalty against VI

Government Penalty Order

On September 29, 2021, the Central Government imposed the penalty on the petitioner companies, citing violations of the license agreement and Quality of Service (QOS) regulations. The high court noted the existence of a TDSAT challenge to this order.

The court stated that if the TDSAT determines that the government’s penalty order is not legally sustainable, the challenged recommendation from October 21, 2016, will be automatically overturned. It acknowledged the high court’s observations could have a negative impact on the ongoing proceedings before the TDSAT.

The high court dismissed the petitions filed by Vodafone Mobile Services and Vodafone Idea, stating that it made no findings on the merits of the case. It left the issue open for the TDSAT to decide on its merits, including the challenge to the recommendation made in October 2016.

Stay on the September 2021 Order: It is worth noting that the TDSAT has already stayed the government’s order until September 2021. This lends credence to the notion that the TDSAT is the best forum for addressing the issue in its entirety.

TRAI's Rs 1050 crore penalty against VI

TRAI’s Rs 1050 crore penalty against VI

The Source of the Dispute

The dispute arose in response to TRAI’s recommendation issued on September 21, 2016, which stated that the petitioners were at fault for denying RJIL POI. TRAI proposed an Rs. For 21 Licensed Service Areas (LSA) whose POI congestion surpassed the permissible limit, a penalty of Rs. 50 crore was imposed per circle.

TRAI’s Rs 1050 crore penalty against VI

Vodafone’s Opposition to TRAI’s Recommendation

Vodafone challenged TRAI’s recommendation, claiming that it was illegal and should be overturned. However, the telecom regulatory authority opposed the petitions, deeming them premature and unsustainable at this time.

TRAI’s Rs 1050 crore penalty against VI

Consequences of the High Court’s Decision

The refusal of the Delhi High Court to intervene in TRAI’s penalty against Vodafone strengthens the authority of specialized bodies like the TDSAT in resolving telecom disputes. The court ensures that the matter will be addressed by the expert tribunal by recognizing the TDSAT’s jurisdiction and staying the September 2021 order. The TDSAT’s final decision will determine the fate of the recommended penalty and shed light on the legal issues at hand.

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