TRAI may get power to penalise service provider under new bill

TRAI may get power to penalise service provider under new bill
The government has mooted a proposal for giving powers to telecom and broadcasting sectors regulator TRAI to penalise service providers for failing to comply with rules and regulations.

The Telecom Ministry in an ongoing inter-ministerial consultation has said that "jurisdiction to impose penalties through a transparent process for default in compliance with its orders and regulations as well as for non-observance of terms and conditions of licence is proposed to be vested in TRAI", sources said,

While the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) has power to regulate and monitor rates, quality and other parameters of telecom and broadcasting services to protect consumer interest, it does not have the power to impose penalties on service providers for failing to adhere to rules.

The regulator, which periodically comes out with performance indicator report of service providers, has often found telecom operators involved in billing disputes lagged in addressing complaints of subscribers. It, however, has not been unable to penalise them.

"It has to file a complaint before a criminal court for adjudication of liabilities. Its ability to enforce its direction and regulation has, thereby, been severely constrained," the source said.

Another government official said the Telecom Ministry is almost done with the consultation process. "Only comments from Ministry of Information and Broadcasting and the Planning Commission are awaited. After which Department of Telecom will compile the comments, make draft and send it to Law Ministry before placing it before Cabinet," he said.

"The approval of Cabinet will be taken for introduction of Telecom Regulatory Authority (Amendment) Bill, 2013 in Parliament," the official said.

Under this Bill, the Telecom Ministry wants to entrust TRAI with new task to periodically monitor efficient use of spectrum and take action in case airwaves are being used inefficiently by service providers.

Further, the ministry also wants that the restriction on TRAI chairman and members for joining new job should be increased from one year to two years after demitting service.

The Bill proposes to enhance qualifications required for appointment of TRAI Chairman and Members.

"Length of experience in relevant fields as 25 years for Chairperson and 20 years for whole-time members," is proposed under the bill in works.


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