Rs 3,050-cr DoT penalty notice to Vi, Airtel may set off legal tussle

The industry — operators like Bharti Airtel and Vodafone Idea — received a jolt when late evening on September 30, the Department of Telecommunications (DoT) sent notices to them asking to pay a cumulative penalty of Rs 3,050 crore within three weeks.

The telecom sector is set to witness a fresh round of litigation between the operators and the department of telecommunications, thus upsetting the government’s intent of putting in place a second set of reforms aiming to put an end to legal battles.

The industry — operators like Bharti Airtel and Vodafone Idea — received a jolt when late evening on September 30, the Department of Telecommunications (DoT) sent notices to them asking to pay a cumulative penalty of Rs 3,050 crore within three weeks.

This penalty was recommended by the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) way back in 2016, ratified by the Digital Communications Commission, the highest inter-ministerial, policy making body in the DoT in July 2019, but held back by the telecom minister since then.

Expressing its disappointment at the DoT’s move and moving the legal forum for redressal as its next step, a Bharti Airtel spokesperson said, “We are deeply disappointed with the arbitrary and unfair demand based on Trai recommendations of 2016 relating to provisions of point of interconnect to a new operator.” Cases relating to intra-circle roaming, one-time spectrum charges, etc between the operators and DoT are pending in various courts. FE

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