Telecom tribunal TDSAT has slammed the state-controlled BSNL for suppression of facts in a dispute with Vodafone over shifting of new ports that connect private operators to BSNL's network.
"We deprecate such suppression of facts at the hands of a Public Sector Undertaking," said the TDSAT bench in its order.
TDSAT's observation came while delivering its order over a plea by Vodafone. BSNL and Vodafone are involved in a dispute over shifting of E1 ports.
TDSAT observed,"It is unfortunate that Respondent (BSNL), which is a 'State' within the meaning of Article 12 of the Constitution of India, did not file before us the letter of the Petitioner (Vodafone) dated November 11, 2011 which clearly shows that the payments were made under compulsion and, thus, it was made under protest."
The TDSAT bench, headed by its Chairman Justice SB Sinha, said BSNL had "merely filed a copy of the challan" before it.
It further said that the BSNL "unfortunately, has taken recourse to prevaricate its stand from stage to stage".
It directed BSNL to pay Rs 50,000 as litigation cost to Vodafone.
BSNL had demanded charges from Vodafone, which wanted to upgrade its port by removing the old E1 ports.
The PSU had said that it would have to augment its resources and would affect the flow of traffic as well as the quality of service.
To get a clear picture, TDSAT had appointed a two member committee consisting J Gopal, former Advisor DoT and R N Prabhakar, former Member, DoT and former Member of the TRAI.
The committee in its report to TDSAT on April 30, 2012 had rejected BSNL's claims of augmentation of resources and said that such shifting can be easily done witin 4 to 8 weeks.
Accepting the committee's report, TDSAT said,"We, find no reason as to why the contentions of the BSNL shall be accepted in that behalf also".
Further it said," It started with a purported 'deeming fiction' whereby it claimed Port charges. That having not been found to be legally sustainable, it raised a contention that shifting from one equipment to the other would not be possible in one go".
TDSAT also rejected BSNL's plea not to accept the report and said" having regard to the fact that the learned Commissioners have found that there are excess E1s (ports), we fail to see any reason as to why the recommendations made by it should not be accepted".
It further asked BSNL to complete the entire process as early as possible as Vodafone "has suffered a lot owing to space crunch by reason of storage of its old machines to maintain the interconnection between and the BSNL; whereas all other operators have shifted to new machine without augmenting their resources".