With the Supreme Court annulling the call drop compensation regulation, telecom minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said on Wednesday that telecom operators must “heed properly” his call to improve service quality.
“When they can expand telecom services to the nook and corner of the country, why can’t they improve the quality?” Prasad asked after the court judgement.
The apex court set aside on Wednesday the call drop penalty provision put in place by the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai), which mandated mobile providers to compensate consumers Re 1 for every dropped call subject to a maximum of Rs 3 a day.
It called the regulation “ultra vires, arbitrary, unreasonable and non-transparent”.
Commenting on the order, Prasad said, “As far the judgement is concerned, Trai regulation is under scrutiny. Therefore, Trai needs to take a call. As far as government obligation is concerned, we shall continue to persuade telecom operators to provide good service.”
Sources, however, said all options are being explored, including for filing of a review petition.
Meanwhile, lawyer for telecom operators and senior Congress leader Kapil Sibal called the regulation “a populist measure”.
“Governments and ministers should not be populist when making decisions on behalf of the government. If you want to please people of India and want to become popular with them, do it in accordance with law,” Sibal said.
Reacting to Sibal’s comment, Prasad said: “Kapil Sibal has been a minister. Either he should become a big lawyer or talk like a leader. If he has said it as a lawyer, then it is unfortunate. If he wants to talk to me as a leader, I am ready with a good reply for him. I too have lots of questions for him. He has been a minister of this (telecom) department.”
Invoking the social commitment card, he held that consumers expect good service from mobile operators and as a minister, it is his responsibility to keep persuading and monitoring them to ensure they fix gaps in their network.
“I expect operators to heed my appeal properly because if digital India is expanding, they will have enough scope for good business,” he said.
Telecom operators’ argument is that resistance to install mobile towers by resident welfare associations and local authorities are main reasons for poor network that result in call drops.
Trai, however, has blamed the operators for investing less in infrastructure required for providing good quality of service.