The Department of Telecom is in favour of giving more penal power to telecom regulator Trai that will enable the sectoral watchdog to impose fine on telecom operators for poor services including call drops. "The DoT is in favour of giving more penal power to Trai. The proposal has been submitted to Telecom Minister who has to take call on it," an official source said.
However, the Department did not favour up to two year imprisonment power sought by the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India for violating its order. Seeking more teeth to check call drops, the regulator TRAI has asked government to amend law to allow it to impose penalty of up to Rs 10 crore on mobile operators and jail term of up to two years on their executives for any violation of regulatory framework.
This demand of the regulator followed a Supreme Court judgement in May quashed the TRAI order mandating telecom operators to compensate subscribers for call drops. TRAI had put in place a new set of rules mandating telecom operators to pay Re 1 for each dropped call, subject to maximum Rs 3 per day, but the order was quashed by the apex court after companies appealed against it.
The regulator has suggested to the Department of Telecom amendments in various provisions in the Trai Act, 1997, with a view to be an "effective sector regulator". At present, TRAI can impose fine of up to Rs 2 lakh for a violation and in case default continues penalty of Rs 2 lakh can be imposed till the time of breach of rules.
Also, disputes between consumers and telecom operators are not taken up by consumer courts at present as a Supreme Court judgement of 2009 had barred seeking any such relief under the Consumer Protection Act, saying a special remedy is provided under the Indian Telegraph Act. "The Trai Act Amendment will need approval of Parliament.