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Airtel challenges Trai over letting Reliance Jio continue its promotional offer till 31 March


Bharti Airtel has moved telecom dispute tribunal TDSAT against Trai allowing Mukesh Ambani-led Reliance Jio to continue free promotional offer beyond stipulated 90 days, charging the regulator of being a “mute spectator” to violations. In its 25-page petition before the Telecom Disputes Settlement and Appellate Tribunal (TDSAT), India’s largest private mobile services operator asked the quasi-judicial body to direct Trai to ensure that Jio does not provide its free voice and data plan beyond 31 December.

It alleged that violation of Trai’s tariff orders has been continuing since March 2016, causing “significant prejudice and day-to-day loss” to it and “affecting its network” as it has to bear asymmetric traffic due to free call offer by Jio. Jio first launched an inaugural free voice and data plan beginning 4 September and earlier this month extended it till 31 March.

Giving reasons for its petition, Airtel said the “free services” continue in blatant violation of the Trai’s Directions, Tariff Orders and the Regulations with “Trai as a mute spectator”.

When the petition was mentioned before a bench of TDSAT today, Jio counsel was present who asked to be impleaded as a party to the case. Trai submitted that it needs 10 more days to take a decision.

TDSAT directed Trai to come back with its decision on the next day and directed Jio to file an impleadment application. Next date of hearing has been fixed for 6 January, 2017.

Airtel in the petition alleged that Trai in its decision dated October 20 “erroneously concluded” that since the Jio’s promotional offer of free services was only valid till December 31, it is consistent with the “90 days” directions of Trai.

“The Trai further without affording any reasoning baldly, cryptically and in a non-transparent manner in violation of Section 11(4) of the Trai Act concluded that the Tariff Plans offered by the said TSP are not non-compliant with IUC and are not predatory and discriminatory at present. The impugned decision of Trai is thus bad in law and deserves to be quashed,” it said.

The appeal, it said, has been filed against Trai’s 20 October decision as well as against its “continued failure to fulfill its statutory obligation” under Trai Act by prohibiting the blatant violation of its own Tariff Orders and Regulations.


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