Telecom Regulatory Authority of India Telecom Regulatory Authority of India

introduction

statutory body: The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) was established on February 20, 1997 by the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India Act, 1997.

Objective:

  • TRAI's mission is to create and improve conditions conducive to the development of telecommunications in the country.
  • TRAI regulates telecom services including fixation/revision of tariff for telecom services which were earlier under the jurisdiction of the Central Government.
  • Its objective is to provide a clean and transparent environment to enable fair and healthy competition among companies.
  • the headquarters: The headquarter of Telecom Regulatory Authority of India is located in New Delhi.

Structure of TRAI

  • MemberTRAI: TRAI consists of a chairman, two whole-time members and two part-time members, who are appointed by the Government of India.
  • Tenure of members: The Chairperson and other members shall hold office for a term of three years or till the age of 65 years, whichever is earlier.
  • President: The President has the powers of general superintendence.
    • He presides over the meetings of TRAI.
  • Vice President: The Central Government may appoint one of the members of the Authority as the Vice-Chairman of TRAI.
    • The Vice-President exercises and discharges the powers and functions of the Speaker in his absence.
    • Procedure to remove members: The Central Government is empowered to remove any member of TRAI if he:
      • has been declared insolvent.
      • Has been convicted of an offense involving moral turpitude.
      • has become physically or mentally incapable of acting as a member.
      • Has misused his position and his continuance in office adversely affects the public interest.

TRAI Meetings:

  • The Chairman has the right to hold meetings from time to time. He presides over the meetings.
  • In the absence of the President, the Vice-President presides over the meeting.
  • In the absence of the Vice-Chairman, any member may be elected by the Authority to preside over the meeting.
  • Decisions in meetings are taken by a majority vote of the members present.
  • In the event of equality of votes, the Speaker (or the member presiding over the meeting) shall have a second vote or casting vote.

Functions of TRAI

  • Make recommendations: The function of TRAI is to make recommendations on the following matters:
    • Need for introduction of new service provider.
    • Revocation of license for non-compliance with the terms and conditions of the license.
    • Measures to make competition fair and promote efficiency in the operation of telecom services so as to facilitate their development.
    • Technological improvements in the services provided by the service providers.
  • Discharge of Responsibilities: TRAI is responsible for discharging the following functions:
    • Ensuring compliance with the terms and conditions of the license.
    • Ensuring technical compatibility and effective interconnection between different service providers.
    • To set standards for the quality of service provided by the service providers.
    • To ensure quality of service and to conduct periodic survey of such services.
    • In time to officially notify the rates at which telecommunication services in India and outside India shall be provided under the TRAI Act, 1997.
  • Non-binding recommendations: TRAI's recommendations are not binding on the central government.
    • If the central government does not accept any of the recommendations of TRAI or if the recommendations need to be amended, it sends it back to the authority for reconsideration.
    • TRAI sends its recommendation to the central government within 15 days after considering the amendment made by the government.

Powers of TRAI

  • Order of submission of information: It may also ask any service provider to furnish in writing such information or explanation relating to its affairs as the Authority may require.
  • Appointments for Testing: The Authority may appoint one or more persons to inquire into the affairs of any service provider.
  • Inspection order: It has the right to direct any of its officers or employees to inspect the accounts or other documents of any service provider.
  • Issue of instructions to service providers: The Authority shall have the power to issue such directions to the service providers as it may deem fit and necessary for the service providers to act.

Telecom Disputes Settlement and Appellate Tribunal

Amendment in TRAI Act, 1997: The TRAI Act was amended in the year 2000 which established a Telecom Disputes Settlement and Appellate Tribunal (TDSAT) to handle the judicial and dispute functions of TRAI.

  • Objective: TDSAT was established to resolve any dispute between the following individual/group/companies:
    • Licensee and Licensee.
    • Two or more service providers.
    • A group of service providers and consumers.
    • It was also established to hear and dispose of appeals against any direction, decision or order of TRAI.
  • Structure: TDSAT consists of a chairman and two other members, who are appointed by the central government.
    • The members are selected by the Central Government in consultation with the Chief Justice of India.
  • Eligibility:
    • President: A person shall not be eligible for appointment as Speaker unless he is or has been a Judge of the Supreme Court or a Chief Justice of a High Court.
    • other members: He/she should have held the post of Secretary to the Government of India or any equivalent post in the Central/State Government.
  • Term of the post: The Chairman and other members of TDSAT shall hold office for a maximum term of three years or 70 years (for the Chairman), whichever is earlier.
    • In the case of members other than the Chairperson, the maximum age is 65 years.
  • Removing Members: The conditions for removal of any member of the Tribunal are the same as those of TRAI.
  • Jurisdiction of TDSAT: Civil courts do not have the power to try any such matter, which TDSAT has the right to hear.
    • An order passed by TDSAT is executable as a decree of a Civil Court; The Tribunal has all the powers of a civil court.
    • It is not bound by the procedure laid down by the Code of Civil Procedure but guided by the principles of natural justice.
    • The Tribunal has the powers to regulate its own procedure.
  • a punishment: Penalties for offenses falling under the jurisdiction of TDSAT are the same as that of TRAI.

 

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