The Supreme Court declined any interim relief to telecom companies against the Delhi High Court’s order upholding Trai’s decision making it mandatory for them to compensate subscribers for call drops from January 1, 2016.
“It’s a question of interim order. We will hear it on Thursday (March 10). As of now, no interim order,” a bench of Justices Kurian Joseph and Rohinton Fali Nariman said.
The court asked senior advocate Kapil Sibal, who was appearing for the cellular operators, to take adjournment before Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) where they are supposed to appear on Monday.
The court also issued notice to the Centre, Trai and others, directing them to file their response before next week on appeals filed by Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI), a body of Unified Telecom Service Providers of India and 21 telecom operators, including Vodafone, Bharti Airtel and Reliance.
During the brief hearing, attorney general Mukul Rohatgi opposed the telecos’ plea, saying the high court has rightly upheld Trai’s decision. “I also oppose their (telecos’) request for no coercive steps as the decision was in the consumer’s interest. Therefore, we succeeded before the high court,” the AG submitted.
At this, the bench said, “We will examine the issue.”
The bench, however, was of the view that “prima facie we do not find anything ultra virus in the decision (of the high court). If call drop fault is on your (telecos) part, you will have to pay for it.”
However, the telecom companies said that the matter should be heard.
The high court had, earlier this week, upheld the October 16, 2016 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.
The court order came while dismissing a batch of petitions filed by COAI.