TRAI orders Idea to pay a penalty of Rs 3 crores for overcharging subscribers
New India, August 28: The telecom regulator Telecom Regulatory Authority of India guided Idea Cellular to deposit Rs 2.97 crores for charging in excess amounts to its subscribers for making calls to BSNL and MTNL networks. The amount should be deposited in the Telecom Consumers Education and Protection Fund (TCEPF) as Idea would not be able to make the refund to subscribers in view of non-availability of the rated call data records.
In May 2005, the Department of Telecom rectified licences to allow the inter-service area connectivity among telecom operators within four states – Maharashtra, West Bengal, Tamil Nadu and Uttar Pradesh. Calls made within each of these states were treated as local calls for the purpose of call routing and levy of access deficit charge. The regulator said that in spite of the rectification, several private GSM operators charged higher rates for calls terminating on network of state-run firms BSNL and MTNL compared to calls made on network of private operators within the boundary of these states.
According to the order dated August 24, 2017 the Authority directed Idea to deposit the amount of Rs. 2,97,90,173 charged in excess from its subscribers during the period from May 2005 to January 2007, and must report agreement within 15 days of issue of this direction. The order was signed by signed by ST Abbas, Telecom Regulatory Authority of India. In February 2006, The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India directed mobile service providers to differential rates being levied by them on subscribers. It urged the operators to refund the extra amount that was charged to their customers.
The Cellular Operators Association of India and other telecom operators directed the order and continued charging higher rates to consumers. The Telecom Disputes Settlement and Appellate Tribunal dismissed the appeal of Cellular Operators Association of India, following which the industry body moved the Supreme Court. The court dismissed the appeal in January 2015. Idea Cellular said that the overcharging could not be refunded to subscribers as call data records of that period are not available. So, Telecom Regulatory Authority of India directed Idea to deposit the fund in Telecom Consumers Education and Protection Fund.