Dispute settlement under TRAI
Authored By : Sejal Sharma
Nowadays we are living in the era of technology and telecommunication has become a major part of it. To regulate the telecom department the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) and the Telecom Dispute Settlement Appellant Tribunal (TDSAT) are set up, these are the statutory authorities. The main purpose of these institutions is to adjudicate disputes and protect the interest of both the consumers and the service providers.
Telecommunication ;Telecom Regulatory Authority of India(TRAI) ;Telecom Dispute Settlement Appellant Tribunal ;Dispute ;Revenue distribution
The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India is known as TRAI in short, this body is made to strengthen the regulatory framework and the dispute settlement in the telecommunication sector. It is an independent body which is made under the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India Act 1997. Its aim was to grow the telecom sector and protect the interest of both the consumers and the providers. They have to establish the quality standard of service and supervise that how the service has been provided.
Background of TRAI:-
Due to the policy of liberalization, this is implemented by the former PM Man Mohan Singh. This policy helps to grow the telecom sector more rapidly. There is need of a central authority to regulate the private telecommunications bodies. The Telecommunication Dispute Settlement Appellate Tribunal was also established after the amendment in the Act in 2000.
Functions of the TRAI:-
❖ TRAI has empowered to settle the disputes between the service providers and the consumers.
❖ These disputes are concerning the revenue sharing between the service providers and the quality of the telecommunication services and the interests of the consumer.
❖ They have right to issue the directions to the service providers.
The power to issue the directions is challenged in the High Court of Delhi. The High Court held that the TRAI cannot issue directions as a licensor. This led to the amendment of 2000, in which Telecom Regulatory Authority of India and Telecom Dispute Settlement &Appellant Tribunal. The former have power to recommendatory and the regulatory functions whereas the later one has the dispute settlement functions respectively.
Duties of TRAI:-
❖ They have to compliance within the terms and conditions of the license.
❖ To make the terms and conditions for the interconnectivity.
❖ To make regulations regarding the revenue distribution between the service providers.
❖ To set the quality for providing the services.
❖ To maintain the register of fees for the inspection for general public.
❖ To lay down the schemes for the long and short distance telecommunications.
Composition of the TRAI:-
The composition is given in the section 14B of the Act, it consist of a chairman and two members appointed by the central government. The qualification for the chairman is that he should be eligible to be the Judge of the High Court. And for the qualifications of the members they have been on the post of the secretary to the government. Chairman can hold the office till the age of 75 and the duration of 3 years whichever is earlier. For the members they can hold office till the age of 65 or duration of 3 years whichever is earlier.
Power of the TRAI:-
They have the jurisdiction over the telecom, Broadcasting Information Technology and the Airports tariff matters under the Telecom Regulatory Authority Act 1997 and the IT Act 2000. These include all the matters related to the cyber affairs but do not deal with any matter related to the anti-competitive trade practices.
Process of registering a dispute under the TRAI:-
Here the proceedings are not bound by the procedure which is being laid down in the code of civil procedure 1908. They have power to make their own procedure which is guided by the principle of the natural Justice.
❖ They have power to summoning and enforcing the attendance of any person and examine him on the oath.
❖ They can discover the produce the documents.
❖ Can receive the evidence on the affidavit.
❖ Can follow the provisions of the evidence Act.
❖ Dismiss the application and set the decision on the ex-parte.
❖ Can set aside the order passed in the ex-parte order.
❖ Can follow any other procedure which has been relevant.
This tribunal is considered as the court of first instance and deemed to be the judicial proceedings under the section 193 of the IPC. The orders passed by the tribunal are deemed as the decree of the civil court.
Procedure of appeal in case of the appeal in tribunal:-
The provision of appeal is applicable to any person which is aggrieved by the decision of the TRAI. This appeal has to be made within the 30 days from the date on which the TRAI has pronounced the orders and the copy of that order has been given to the aggrieved person. The Appellant Tribunal gave the equal opportunity to each party. The tribunal has to hear the case at earliest and disposed of the appeals within the 90 days from the date of appeal.
Bharati Telnet vs. Union of India, (2005) 4 SCC 72.
Here the provision of appeal in which the tribunal has to disposed off within the period of 90 days can be increase if there is some reasonable ground.
The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India is one of the important statutory authorities of India. This Act provides all the provision related procedure to file a case, procedure to follow should be upon the principles of the Natural Justice. We are living in the competitive era, the authority should fulfill all the criteria and the provisions given in the Act and do the maximum benefit and protect both the consumers and the service providers.
1. Margaret Rouse, Telecom Regulatory Authority of India(TRAI), https://whatis.techtarget.com/definition/Telecom-Regulatory-Authority-of-India-TRAI (27 Aug 2020, 5:40)
2. Charul Mishra, Dispute Settlement under TRAI, https://blog.ipleaders.in/dispute-settlement-under-trai/ (27 Aug 2020 6:15 pm)
3. The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India Act 1997, https://cis-india.org/telecom/resources/trai-act-1997 (27 Aug 2020, 6:30 pm)