Delhi High Court supports TRAI, orders telcos to compensate customers on call drops

Delhi High Court is supporting the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) over call for telecom companies to compensate subscribers for the first three dropped calls since January 1. The two-judge bench including Justice Jayant Nath and Chief Justice G. Rohini ruled for TRAI’s demand for telecom companies to compensate subscribers for dropped calls since January 1.

The two judges stated that the telecom companies are mandated to submit to the regulation 16 of the Telecom Consumers Protection Regulations that was set in 2012. They also stated that TRAI has the authority to take the necessary steps as stipulated by law to make sure that there is compliance.

The regulation was supposed to take effect on January 2016, but the telecom companies filed the case with the High Court to challenge the decision made by TRAI. The telecom firms were also supported by industry associations such as COAI (Cellular Operators of India) and AUSPI (Association of Unified Telecom Service Providers India).

TRAI argued that it was imposing a penalty on the telecom providers through compensation to service providers for call drops and that the court should not interfere with that decision since it is based on policy.

The Department of Telecom had received a lot of complaints from consumers claiming that the number of call drops had increased while the voice quality was poor. The department then suggested that TRAI should as operators to offer free minutes to the subscribers to settle the grievances.

TRAI then asked regulators to come up with a plan of action to address the call drops in July 2015. Earlier the same year, the regulator had released a detailed performance analysis of the top telecom providers in seven cities in the country including Mumbai and Delhi.

The report indicated that the call drops for some of the companies had gone beyond the permissible limits. The permissible level set by TRAI is 3%.