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Supreme Court Orders Airtel, Idea, and Vodafone to Disclose Details of Tariff Offers to TRAI

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A Full Bench of the Supreme Court was headed by Chief Justice S.A Bobde. It was stated that the telecom service providers are under the obligation to furnish details of the tariffs offered to the TRAI.

Brief facts of the case

The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (‘TRAI’), the Appellant requested the Telecom Service Providers (TSPs) to provide information relating to segmented offers and concessions. But the TSPs failed to disclose the information.

So it applied for an interim direction to the Respondents to disclose information about its segmented offers.

Appellant’s Arguments

The details of the segmented offers provided by TSPs are not disclosed to the TRAI despite being a regulator. Thus, it is not in a position to analyze whether the plans are transparent and non-discriminatory. The TRAI in the absence of such information cannot check whether predatory pricing is resorted to by TSPs in the garb of segmented offers or not.

It was contended that the TSPs are under a statutory obligation to offer tariffs in a transparent, non-discriminatory manner and to report all tariffs to the authority.

Respondent’s Arguments

Segmented offers constitute “confidentially designed trade practices”. The Telecom Disputes Settlement and Appellate Tribunal had held that it does not need to be reported. 

The Respondents have complied with the order of the Tribunal to disclose only the number of segmented offers to their existing customers along with a declaration that the principles of nondiscrimination were followed.

Also, if the TRAI receives any complaints about the said offers the Respondents are willing to submit the required details. But, so far the TRAI has not received any complaint.

Court’s Observations

The Court stated that the TRAI has the jurisdiction to demand the Tariff details from the TSPs.

The 63rd amendment to the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India Act, 1997 amended the definition of Reporting Requirement. It makes it clear that the Reporting Requirement is for the information and record of the TRAI.

The TRAI is required to ensure adherence to the regulatory principles of transparency, non-discrimination, and non-predation. This cannot be said to be either illegal or wholly unjustified.

Court’s Decision

The Court ordered the TSPs (Airtel, Idea, and Vodafone) to disclose information about the Tariff offers. It also stated the duty of the TRAI to keep the information confidential.

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