Consumer interest first on ruling in Jio free offer: TDSAT

New Delhi, Jan 6 (IANS) A telecom tribunal on Friday said subscribers’ interest is paramount, while hearing a case where Bharti Airtel has challenged the sectoral watchdog’s permission to Reliance Jio for continuing its free services offer.

The Telecom Disputes Settlement and Appellate Tribunal (TDSAT) said it fully understands the predicament of the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI), against which Bharti Airtel has lodged the case.

It, nonetheless, said while the ruling has to “balance the interest of operators”, the “primary interest is of the consumer.”

The quasi-judicial body has asked the TRAI to take a decision on Reliance Jio’s 4G free offer within “reasonable time”.

This, after Additional Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, appearing for the watchdog, submitted that a large number of similar applications are before TRAI, warranting similar action, and that 10 days’s time to take a call on the matter and spell out the final decision is not sufficient.

The tribunal also said the prayers before it made it clear that it is for the watchdog to take a call on regulation and how far they have been complied with.

The matter will be put up for hearing again on February 1.

While the case is of Bharti versus the watchdog, Reliance Jio counsel submitted that they are a necessary and a proper party in the matter and needed to be impleaded, as any decision is likely to affect them.

The tribunal issued a notice on the impleadment application and allowed Bharti to file a counter to it within two weeks, and a rejoinder if any within within a week.