The Supreme Court on Monday issued notice to Vodafone Idea and Bharti Airtel on a plea by Reliance Jio Infocomm for lending it a hearing in a case related to the points of interconnection issue pending before the Telecom Disputes Settlement and Appellate Tribunal.
A bench presided over by Chief Justice N V Ramana sought a reply from Vodafone Idea and Airtel on Jio’s appeal against the TDSAT’s order, which had rejected its application for impleadment in the case.
Both Vodafone and Airtel had moved the TDSAT against the Department of Telecommunication’s demand of Rs 3,050 crore as cumulative penalties from the two telecoms for allegedly denying adequate points of interconnection to Reliance Jio in 2016 when it commenced operations, affecting the quality of services, thus flouting licence conditions, the appeal stated.
Notably, the DoT had raised the demands on September 29, 2021.
Subsequently, TDSAT had on October 22 stayed the recovery of the amount till the issue is finally decided.
The fine followed a recommendation by the TRAI which had in October 2016 found the three service providers, Bharti Airtel, Vodafone India and Idea Cellular guilty of flouting service quality rules.
The regulator had recommended fines of Rs 1050 crore each on Vodafone India and Airtel for violating licence conditions in 21 circles each and Rs 950 crore on Idea Cellular for violating the rule in 19 circles. Vodafone India and Ideal Cellar have since merged.
Jio said that the reason for the imposition of the penalty on Vodafone Idea and Airtel collectively was that the Incumbent Dominant Operators (IDOs) had wilfully denied adequate PoIs to RJIL in 2016. It was as a consequence of this denial that RJIL suffered call failures of over Rs 10.2 crore on a daily basis during this period, its petition claimed. Deccan Herald