Court removes 200 cap on personal SMSes

The Delhi High Court Friday set aside an order of the telecom sector regulator capping SMSes at 200 per day per person for personal communications.

The court however, upheld the curb for unsolicited commercial communication [UCC] SMSes, saying: 'The UCC messages disturb the recipients, intrude into their privacy and impose a cost in terms of time and efforts'. A division bench of Acting Chief Justice AK Sikri and Justice Rajiv Sahai Endlaw said: 'We are, therefore, of the opinion that the impugned provision of Telecom Regulatory Authority of India [TRAI] insofar as it covers non-UCCs [unrestricted unsolicited commercial communications] SMS in the present form as it exists, infringes the freedom of speech of the citizens.'

'And the conditions imposed upon the freedom of speech is not reasonable which would be protected under Article 19 [2] [which deals with reasonable restrictions of freedom of speech] of the Constitution,' the bench further said. The court's direction came on a plea filed by NGO Telecom Watchdog against the TRAI, challenging its imposition of a cap of 200 SMSes per day per person.

The bench, making a distinction for unsolicited commercial calls, said that the restriction imposed by the TRAI was valid.

'We have already pointed out that the TRAI has found that UCC calls and SMSs were interfering with the personal lives as often telemarketers would call up for selling products. Such calls sere unsolicited. The receiving party does not want to receive such calls or messages.'
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