Incumbent operators were “intentionally denying and delaying” providing adequate points of interconnection to the new entrant Reliance Jio, TRAI said on Wednesday, defending its recommendation to impose a penalty on Bharti Airtel, Idea and Vodafone.
TRAI said it was within its powers to impose a penalty for violation of licence norms. TRAI in a reply to over a dozen queries raised by the Department of Telecommunications (DoT), said that “…millions of consumers were suffering due to blatant and wilful violation of the licence terms and TRAI’s regulations by” the top three telecos.
TRAI had recommended a fine of ₹1,050 crore each for Airtel and Vodafone, and of ₹950 crore for Idea for violating their agreement and denial of interconnection to Reliance Jio. DoT had sought clarifications on several points, including the provision of law under which the amount was recommended.
“Non-compliance of terms and conditions of the license under the TRAI Act, 1997 warrants recommendations for the revocation of the license. Clearly, penalty to a TSP amounts much less in severity than revocation of its license. It is well-established that a penal action which is lower than the stipulated action is intra-vires.”