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TDSAT: No hearing on Tuesday for Airtel, Vi penalty case

The telecom tribunal TDSAT did not hear any matter listed before it for Tuesday, including the Rs 3,050-crore cumulative penalty case of Bharti Airtel and Vodafone Idea.

“All concerned are hereby informed that the Hon’ble Tribunal would not sit today i.e. on 26th October, 2021,” a TDSAT notice said.

However, the TDSAT notice did not specify any reason.

The Telecom Disputes Settlement and Appellate Tribunal (TDSAT) bench headed by Justice Shiv Kirti Singh had on October 12, listed the matter for hearing on October 26, and had asked to not encash the bank guarantee “till the next date”.

As per the Department of Telecom (DoT), companies were required to pay the penalty by October 21.

Bharti Airtel and Vodafone Idea moved the telecom tribunal to challenge the Telecom Department’s demand notices for payment of Rs 3,050 crore cumulative penalties in the points of interconnect matter.

DoT had slapped a penalty of Rs 2,000 crore on Vodafone Idea and Rs 1,050 crore on Bharti Airtel based on sector regulator Trai’s recommendation five years ago, for violating norms by denying Reliance Jio points of interconnect (PoIs) way back in 2016.

The PoI are required to interconnect networks of telecom operators.

Lawyers representing Vodafone Idea had argued that the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) recommended a penalty based on just one day reading of quality of service data and even did not average it over the period of 30 days as per the norms.

In October 2016, Trai had recommended imposing a total penalty of Rs 3,050 crore on Airtel, Vodafone and Idea (now merged) for allegedly denying inter-connectivity to Reliance Jio.

The regulator had, at that time, stopped short of recommending cancellation of their telecom licences saying it may lead to significant consumer inconvenience.

Trai’s recommendation had come on a complaint by Reliance Jio that over 75 per cent of calls on its network were failing as incumbents were not releasing sufficient numbers of PoIs. PTI

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