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Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI)

09 May 2017

Bharti Airtel’s director legal Sameer Chugh leads, in his words, a “fast-paced” industry.

18 January 2017

For B4U Television’s director and head legal Natasha Fernandes, sustaining a small TV and movie distribution company’s business in the face of a regulatory threat to its main revenue model – advertisements – is the biggest challenge.

24 December 2015

The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) has asked Reliance Communications, which partnered with Facebook to put their ‘Free Basics’ on hold reported BBC on 23 December.

Free basics is pitched as a service which would provide internet accessibility to people who cannot afford high costs of internet but critics believe that the concept is contrary to net neutrality principles. Free basics would favour certain online services over others.

A Reliance spokesperson was quoted as saying: “As directed by TRAI, the commercial launch of Free Basics has been kept in abeyance, until they consider all details and convey a specific approval.”

TRAI told Reliance that it wanted to “examine the details and intrinsic” of the offer but it is believed that the issue concerns net neutrality principles.

Facebook introduced internet.org in 2013 for developing countries in order to “introduce people to the benefits of the internet”, which was renamed as ‘free basics’ earlier this year. Content in free basics includes pages from selected local news and weather forecast providers, the BBC, Wikipedia and various health services offered in 36 countries and expected to introduce more than 15 million people to internet. However, Facebook’s founder Mark Zuckerberg has reportedly said that it was"not sustainable to offer the whole internet for free”.

Critics are worried about disadvantages to start-ups and companies not included in free basics and several larger groups who had signed up for the same pulled out of the services including the Times Group and Cleartrip, citing concerns about absence of fair, level playing field.

TRAI is going to hold a hearing into net neutrality in January and Facebook has upped its marketing in India recently asking people to support free basics.

30 November 2015

Vodafone has, through senior advocate K Vishwanathan, challenged the telecom authority’s new rules which deprive it of charges paid to it by other operators on outgoing calls from their network to the Vodafone network, reported The Indian Express.

In its challenge to the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India’s (TRAI) Telecommunication Interconnection Usage Charges Regulations 2015, at the Delhi high court, Vodafone has argued that the TRAI has arbitrarily decreased Interconnection Usage Charges (IUC), and that this is illegal and beyond the TRAI’s functions.

Interconnection Usage Charge (IUC) is the amount payable by one telecom service provider whose user makes the call to the other whose user receives it. While smaller and newer telecom operators welcomed the move, bigger operators like Vodafone are unhappy with this because they earn through these charges.

The TRAI had notified the regulations in February this year.

A bench of Chief Justice G Rohini and Justice Rajiv Sahai Endlaw refused to give interim relief to Vodafone without hearing TRAI’s reply. The case will be heard next on 19 January 2016.

Vishwanathan reportedly submitted to the court that even when TRAI agrees that costs are incurred for terminating a call, it has grossly erred and acted in an illegal manner while fixing the termination charges for wireline to wireless as zero and wireless to wireless from Rs 0.20 per minute to Rs 0.14 per minute.

12 October 2015

After a telecom company whose phone users are suffering from frequent call drops complained to the Delhi high court that the call drops were because 130 of its mobile towers had been “wrongly” sealed, the court has ordered that mobile towers erected after valid cellular licenses be de-sealed, reported The Times of India.

A bench of justices Badar Durrez Ahmed and Siddharth Mridul was hearing the telecom company and Cellular Operators Association of India, who claimed that they faced a range of problems, including call-drops, because three municipal corporations sealed towers despite payment of licence fee.

The high court issued notice to the corporations and sought their replies by 6 November reported TOI. “Meanwhile, we direct the three municipal corporations of Delhi to follow directions given by us on 17 October, 2014, 13 March, 2015 and 1 May, 2015, in letter and spirit,” the court said.

The corporations claimed that they sealed the towers only after sending show-cause notices to telecom companies who didn’t reply to them. They also claimed that installation and operation of some towers were done without obtaining valid clearances from corporation.

The operators on the other hand claim high-handedness by corporations and said that show-cause notices were not issued on time and that more than 70 towers have been sealed since the date filing the application, even after reminding the corporations that the matter is seized by the high court.

09 December 2013

BCI cozies up to NaMo
A delegation led by Bar Council of India (BCI) chief Manan Kumar Mishra met Narendra Modi on Saturday, inviting him to address the valedictory function of the Gujarat bar Council. According to a Gujarat state press release, the BCI respected Modi’s nationalism, while Modi called for better application of technology and faster disposal of criminal cases by improving forensic science education [TOI]

SC settles TDSAT-TRAI turf war: TRAI wins
Telecom tribunals’ TDSAT and TRAI’s three-and-a-half-year-long turf war has been finally put to rest by the Supreme Court which has held that the TDSAT has no business interfering in TRAI-made regulations. TDSAT can only hear and dispose of appeals against TRAI orders [Business Standard / SC judgment]

Crowds admire Kerala HC astrological garden
Kerala high court now has its very own astrological plant garden with 27 varieties of medicinal saplings that relate to the 27 constellations. Crowds thronged the HC complex on Friday in search of their medicinal star-sign flower pot [IANS]

AP HC allows lower courts to accept PILs
We haven’t succeeded in putting our finger on the legal provision Andhra HC chief justice KJ Sengupta has employed in reaching this conclusion: “The common man need not approach the high court for filing of PILs as it involves a cost factor. The filing of PILs can be done at munsiff magisterial courts also.” Can you? [PTI]

Madras HC asked for anti-sex harass cell: After the Allahabad HC is done constituting its anti-sexual harassment cell, the Madras HC is now also under the wave of demand for the cell after a PIL was filed in the HC asking for a mechanism to deal with the problem in all Tamil Nadu courts [TOI]

Bombay HC prioritises ‘younger’ senior citizens’ cases, lowers age limit 
The “precedence age” – the age at which a litigant can get his case listed on priority in the Bombay HC – has reduced from 65 to 60. On 3 December the HC has issued a circular that if even one of the litigants party to a case have attained the age of 60, their case will be listed for final hearing and disposal on priority basis, on their request. In 1999, this age was fixed at 65 [PTI]

Madras HC lawyers against SC lawyers as their judges: Madras HC lawyers will have a 25 per cent empty roster rather than “importing a stranger” to fill judge seats in the HC, if their opposition to the appointment of three SC lawyers to the HC’s judgeship is anything to go by. The Advocates Association of the HC swears that the move will ‘'completely distort the present selection process”, because the appointment will not be made by the collegium’s recommendation but on the request of the SC’s Advocates-on-Record association [The Hindu]

Lawyer punches pesky customs officer for clients: A Madras HC lawyer has managed to make headlines for taking his solemn duty for his client a tad too seriously by roughing up the customs officer who held up his clients after their questioning at the unit was over [TOI]

21 June 2013

8 new Bom HC judges: The Bombay HC elevated eight lawyers to judgeship. The new judges: Advocates Suresh Gupte, Z A haq, K R Shriram, Gautam Patel, Atul Chandurkar, Revati Mohite Dhere, Mahesh Sonak and Ravindra Ghuge [TOI]

DoT V TRAI: Telecom regulator TRAI and the Department of Telecommunications (DoT) are in conflict again after TRAI decided not to waive roaming charges on mobile phones; however, the DoT had already announced they would be waived as part of the National Telecom Policy 2012 [Hindu BL]

Secret CJI inquiry: The home ministry has rejected RTI activist SC Aggarwal’s application seeking the finance ministry’s inquiry report against former Chief Justice of India KG Balakrishnan, and informed him that no ground was made out to make a presidential reference to the Supreme Court seeking Balakrishnan’s removal from his current post as the National Human Rights Commission’s (NHRC) chairperson [HT]

3 new Orissa HC judges: The Orissa HC got three new judges taking its total strength to 15 against the sanctioned strength of 22. The new judges are: Bidyut Ranjan Sarangi, Biswajit Mohanty and Akshaya Kumar Rath [TOI]

Suspended judge: A Bombay civil judge was suspended after the prosecution in a murder case he was earlier trying complained to the Supreme Court that the judge had threatened him with dire consequences and that there was danger to his life [Mumbai Mirror]

23 May 2013

Justice for Jessica: The Delhi HC has dismissed perjury charges against 17 of the 19 hostile witnesses in the Jessica Lal murder case. The court has ordered suo moto prosecution against Bollywood actor Shayan Munshi and ballistic expert PS Manocha under Section 340 of the Code of Criminal Procedure [Hindu]

Alam for TDSAT: Former SC judge Aftab Alam will head the presently headless Telecom Disputes Settlement and Appellate Tribunal (TDSAT), according to CJI Alatamas Kabir’s recommendation with new law minister Kapil Sibal’s nod. Former SC judge Cyriac Joseph was Kabir’s previous recommendation to the post but Sibal was opposed. Joseph may now be a TDSAT member [BS]

Anti-vacation PIL after vacs: Advocate K Shyam has petitioned the Madras HC against its summer vacations; the petition will be heard after the HC’s 1 May to 2 June summer vacations. Shyam asserts that the vacation was useful in the colonial days when the judges could not bear the heat, whereas now judges operate in an air-conditioned environment. Five lakh cases are pending before the Madras HC [Hindu]

Maha SIC on FIRe: The Maharashtra state Chief Information Commission has directed the Director General of Police to publish all first information reports (FIRs), except those decided by an officer of Commissioner level, on its website. The commission holds that uploading FIRs would curb the practice of bribing to obtain a copy of the report and soon denials of FIRs would be a thing of the past in Maharashtra [Money Life]

Sinha pours out: SEBI chairman UK Sinha on dealing with defaulters of the minimum public shareholding directives, slowing down markets to safeguard against algorithmic trading risks, the need for more enforcement powers and the lack of coordination between regulators [BS]

Judicially accepted live-ins: By holding that rape charges cannot be slapped against a man who did not marry a woman after physical intimacy with her, the Supreme Court has paved the way for judicial acceptance of cohabitation between unmarried men and women, writes The Times

Bloggers v Suerage: An Indian university lecturer was jailed in Dubai after he blogged against a Dubai-based private university. He was a senior lecturer at the Dubai university from 2008 to 2012 and had won relief against the university in a Dubai court for improper termination of his contract. After the court’s ruling he had blogged against the institution and moved Karnataka High Court for what he termed was a gross human rights violation [TOI]

Defence secrets out of CAGe: Supreme Court advocate Prashant Bhushan says he intends to challenge the appointment of former defence secretary Shashikant Sharma as the new Comptroller & Auditor General, as illegal and unconstitutional due to conflict of interest from having access to considerable secret defence information [TOI]

Negative list, service tax: The Delhi HC becomes the first high court to examine an issue under the new negative list regime of service tax. The court examined whether a foreman in a business chit fund can be taxed under this regime, and observed that ‘transaction in money’ per se is not a ‘service’ [BMR Advisors/Money Control]

Fitness test: Union law minister Kapil Sibal proposes to amend the Indian Penal Code to include a provision penalising sports-related offences, after the IPL spot fixing scandal. However, sports is a state subject in the Constitution of India. The law ministry is therefore seeking the attorney general’s opinion on its domain [TOI]

P&H AAG resigns: Punjab & Haryana’s additional advocate general Manish Bansal resigns after facing criticism over holding company director posts alongside his government post [TOI]

21 May 2013

No Reliance on reportage: Anil Ambani’s ADAG threatened legal action against monthly magazine Caravan while they were reporting their 11,000-word profile on attorney general Goolam Vahanvati. Delhi law firm Agarwal & Associates acted for ADAG, The Hoot published the deets.

Feel me once, shame on you: iGate chief Phaneesh Murthy sacked for sexual harassment allegation after improper relationship with subordinate and investigation by outside counsel. At his former workplace, Infosys, Murthy was also accused of harassment, which was settled for $3m [Mint]

IPL PIL: A Public interest litigation (PIL) was filed yesterday in the Supreme Court asking for a special investigation team (SIT) probe into cricketing tournament Indian Premiere League’s (IPL) irregularities, including spot fixing. The SC dismissed the PIL giving time to the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) to complete its investigation within 1CC5 days [PTI/ESPN Cric Info]

CCI all grown up: At the Competition Commission of India’s (CCI) annual day yesterday finance minister P Chidambaram discussed the realistic possibility of the CCI soon being called upon to override decisions of other regulators [Business Today]

DoT demands promotion: The Department of Telecommunication (DoT) will invite proposals from various ministries by 9 June to give more power, resources and staff to the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI), according to an internal DoT memo seen by Mint

16 May 2013

TRAI-ing new approach: On enforcing the 12 min/hour advertising cap on TV, Telecom Regulatory Authority of India head Rahul Khullar says: “I don’t have to win a fucking election. I am a regulator, I am answerable to Parliament, my job is to enforce the law. Once the regulation is issued, it is law. The telecom guys know this. The broadcasting guys are learning it late.” [Mint]

Facebook arrest: Supreme Court refuses to allow a blanket ban on arrest under Section 66 of the Information Technology Act 2000 for posting content on social networking sites, but reasserts that such arrests can only be made after permission from senior police officials [Hindu]

NLU targets: National law universities need a more rigorous curriculum, greater focus on post graduate courses, greater faculty focus on research, “higher benchmarks”, consultative regulation from the BCI, and integration of inter-disciplinary subjects argues the Hindu Businessline [HBL]

SEBI’s grey options: There are a number of options available to the Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) between the two extremities of being ‘reactive’ or ‘proactive’ when dealing with capital market frauds, argues former SEBI executive director Sandeep Parekh [BS]

Sibal to-do: A Delhi-based lawyer chalks a to-do list for new law minister Kapil Sibal: A constitutional amendment to change the collegium system, appointment of law officers by the judiciary instead of the executive, amendment of economic laws, and reduction in case pendency [Hindu]

14 May 2013

Writ extorts 500 Rupee JEE key: The CBSE has today notified that it will provide the JEE-mains answer key to interested candidates for Rs 500. Legally India had yesterday reported the listing of a writ in the Delhi HC against the CBSE, by a JEE candidate, to force the CBSE to disclose the answer key [CBSE Notification]

Sex and the Judiciary: Convicting a factory worker for the murder of a woman, a Kancheepuram district judge wrote in his order: “A man and woman, if left alone, will always go for sexual intercourse”. The Madras HC acquitted the accused and observed: “Mere suspicion based on surmises and conjunctures will not take the place of proof.” [TOI]

SC cuts NE(E)T of suffering: The Supreme Court yesterday lifted its 13 December embargo on government and private medical colleges, allowing them to declare the results of the entrance exams conducted by them independently for the 2013-14 batch of MBBS, BDS and PG candidates. The SC’s interim order came in a stand-off between the colleges and the Medical Council of India, over the National Eligibility cum Entrance Test (NEET) [Express]

Sibal on the collegium: Telecom minister Kapil Sibal, who was on Saturday given the additional charge of the law ministry, told journalists: “The collegium system of appointment is opaque and non-transparent. But changes cannot be made overnight. There are both short-term and long-term…. Under the short-term process, we will have proper consultation with the judges on how to go about the changes.” [Telegraph India]

Chicken came first or parrot?: Taking a dig at the Supreme Court for its “caged parrot” remark about the CBI and its independence, Congress reader Digvijay Singh told reporters: “I will request you to try and get access to all those who are calling our institutions chicken or parrot. You should take reaction from them also.” [PTI]

Dutt jail-holiday ends: The Supreme Court today refused to hear the plea of two film producers seeking an extension in Bollywood actor Sanjay Dutt’s date of surrendering to jail authorities to complete his three-and-a-half year jail term under the Arms Act. 1993-blasts accused Dutt has to surrender on Thursday, after the SC earlier already granted him a four-week extension [PTI]

Not your business, TRAI: News organizations have opposed the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India’s (TRAI) attempt to frame guidelines for the print and electronic media. They have suggested that the TRAI should instead work toward “orderly growth in the sector” together with the CCI, the SEBI and the MRTP Commission [BS]

18 February 2013

The Telecom Disputes Settlement and Appellate Authority (TDSAT) is now practically defunct, after the body’s only serving member PK Rastogi retired, as predicted in a column on Legally India in January. According to an Economic Times’  telecommunications ministry source, the appointment process for one of two members, former MTNL managing director Kuldeep Singh, has begun.

The tribunal has not had a chairman since former Supreme Court (SC) judge SB Sinha retired from the chair in November 2012. Former SC judge Cyriac Joseph, who was reportedly appointed to take the chair after Sinha, has not joined to date.

According to ET, the process of appointment was underway and the members will be announced before the month-end, although it another source told the paper that the Chief Justice of India (CJI), who takes a call on chairmans' appointments, had not yet recommended names for the position. [ET]

29 January 2013

Cyriac Joseph How is the TDSAT going to function without members, asks Delhi advocate Nidhi Parashar.

06 November 2012

The Telecom Disputes Settlement and Appellate Tribunal (TDSAT) got a new chairman in former Supreme Court judge Cyriac Joseph. Joseph who retired from the SC on 27 January after three-and-a-half years on the roster, succeeds former SC judge SB Sinha at the chair after Sinha’s retirement last month.

He is a former chief justice of Uttaranchal high court as well as Karnataka high court.

Joseph enrolled at the bar in 1968, became the senior government pleader in Kerala high court in 1979 until 1987, was Additional Advocate General in Kerala for three years from 1991, and was appointed as a permanent judge of Kerala high court for a month in 1994.

He was transferred to Delhi high court that year, and was appointed as Uttaranchal high court’s chief justice in March 2005. Next year he became chief justice of Karnataka high court. [Indian Television]

Sinha was appointed as chairman in September 2009, succeeding former SC judge Arun Kumar.