The country’s telecom watchdog and corruption watchdog are at loggerheads over alleged irregularities in distributing radio spectrum that carries mobile phone signals.
The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) is furious over the Chief Vigilance Commissioner (CVC) saying that it had failed to do its duty by not properly advising Department of Telecommunications (DoT) on spectrum allocation.
Government sources said that TRAI chairman Nripendra Misra on Monday called a meeting of the regulator’s members to discuss a leaked letter from the CVC, K.S. Ramasubban, to DoT secretary accusing TRAI on this issue.
The members unanimously decided to reply to CVC's charges by writing a letter to the CVC not to overstep its mandate – effectively asking it to mind its own business. The letter is expected to be delivered to the CVC on Tuesday.
In its letter to DoT secretary Siddartha Behura, the CVC said, “Commission observes that TRAI as regulator has failed in its functions as required under the TRAI Act 1997. It needs to be ascertained from TRAI as to why they failed to intervene and give advice to the Government on the issue of efficient management of spectrum.”
TRAI members were of the view that a statutory body like CVC should not make sweeping observations about another statutory body like TRAI – with no communication between them to justify the letter.
TRAI officials say their procedures are transparent, conducted with debate on recommendations publicised through its Internet site, which according to the regulatory body makes the CVC’s sudden outburst puzzling.
TRAI is an independent statutory body. Its decisions are not even audited by the Comptroller and Auditor General and any appeal against the regulator goes to the TDSAT, an industry tribunal.