This may not be good news for Vodafone, the company that acquired Hutch, from the Central Information Commission (CIC).
The CIC on Friday got an assurance from the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) seeking an explanation from Hutch for not acting on the complaint of a RTI applicant ML Aggarwal. The CIC’s decision may open floodgates for RTI applications with TRAI against the mobile service providers.
Aggarwal, who was being charged for add on services without his consent, filed an RTI application with TRAI seeking eight clarifications. He wanted to know whether Hutch was competent to add arbitrary any amount of charges without any written consent from the customers and number of consumers from whom the money is charged. He also sought information about Hutch officials responsible for collecting the charges.
TRAI replied that they have issued direction to Cellular Mobile Access Providers that no chargeable value added service shall be provided to a customer without his explicit consent. TRAI also indicated that any value added service, which was earlier provided free of charge should not be made chargeable without the consent of the consumer. However, on information related to the company TRAI clarified that it does not maintain such details about the companies.
During the hearing at CIC, the appellant Aggarwal informed that despite TRAI’s clarification he was still being charged for the service without his consent.
The Central Public Information Officer of TRAI informed CIC that Hutch has to carry out the direction issued by TRAI and said they would ‘definitely; take up the appellant’s complaint with the company. "If the case is provide that Hutch has violated, they (TRAI) will take up matter in the court," the CPIO assured CIC, informing that the regulatory body also have a quasi-judicial function.