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No more peddling products on cell

The next time a firm pesters you on your cell, you can do more than just slam the phone, writes Harish V Nair.

india Updated: May 10, 2006 01:08 IST

The next time a marketing firm pesters you on your cell phone with its products and services, you can do more than just slam the phone in disgust. Just inform the regulatory authority — TRAI in this case — and you could get the licence of the firm as well as that of the service provider cancelled.

In a landmark ruling that spells relief to millions of cell phone users harassed by unsolicited calls, the State Consumer Disputes Redressal Forum on Tuesday banned all such unsolicited calls, regardless of whether they came from banks, financial institutions or marketing firms. It also ordered “stringent action against violators”.

The forum directed service providers not to disclose any personal information about subscribers, including mobile phone number, to unauthorised persons, terming it a serious “breach of undertakings and invasion of privacy”.

“These calls, besides being a nuisance, pose a grave threat and jeopardise safety and security of the people due to sharing of confidential information such as name, address and financial standing,” the forum, headed by Justice J.D. Kapoor, said, acting on a petition filed by a lawyer. On March 6, the Centre had informed the Supreme Court — hearing a PIL on the issue — that it would soon come out with a solution to end the menace.

Squarely blaming service providers for the menace, the forum said: “This is a violation of the undertaking to maintain confidentiality and invites cancellation of their licence as no stranger can possess such information without being provided by the service provider, who alone is in its possession.”

Justice Kapoor said such calls and SMSs were being received by almost every consumer day in and out. The forum expressed surprise that numbers from where such calls are made were usually untraceable. He asked the public to bring it to the notice of the regulatory authorities, who shall take stringent action against them.

Petitioner Nivedita Sharma, a lawyer residing from Saket, had approached the court seeking a direction to end the menace, which was causing her “immense mental agony and harassment”.
A subscriber of Airtel, she got up to 10 to 15 unwarranted calls a day, some of them at odd hours, causing “tremendous disturbance at her work”.

First Published: May 10, 2006 01:08 IST