TRAI told the Supreme Court on Wednesday it will take action against telecom companies for call drops to protect the interest of consumers as these service providers are not willing to compensate them.
“We need to ensure quality of service. We need to protect the interest of consumers. They (telecom companies) don’t want to invest. They don’t want to compensate the consumers for call drops, then what should be do. We have to take action,” attorney general Mukul Rohatgi said.
Rohatgi, appearing for Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI), before a bench of justices Kurian Joseph and RF Nariman, said that consumers needs to be given some solace and the penalty imposed on the telecos are “just the measure to make them pull up their boot straps”.
“Its not a penalty. It’s just a measure to make them pull their boot straps. Consumers are the ultimate masters and they need to be given some solace for call drops, which is a pan India phenomenon,” he said.
The bench, after the conclusion of TRAI’s argument, asked telecom operators to make any rejoinder arguments and posted the matter for further hearing on May 3.
The regulatory body had told the apex court on Tuesday that it has to safeguard 100 crore telecom subscribers and if companies agree to compensate call drops with equal number of free calls to consumers without pre-conditions, then it is open to reconsider its direction imposing penalty on them.
It had said that the telecom companies never agree to any of the arrangements suggested to them by the regulator for compensating consumers.
COAI, a body of Unified Telecom Service Providers of India and 21 telecom operators, including Vodafone, Bharti Airtel and Reliance, have challenged the Delhi high court order upholding TRAI’s decision, making it mandatory for them to compensate subscribers for call drops from this January.
TRAI has earlier told the apex court that a “cartel” of 4-5 telecom firms having a billion subscribers are making Rs 250 crore a day but not making investments on their network to improve services to check call drops.
The Delhi HC had earlier this year upheld the October 16, 2015 decision of TRAI, making it mandatory for cellular operators to pay consumers one rupee per call drop experienced on their networks, subject to a cap of Rs 3 a day.