Telecom tribunal TDSAT has set aside DoT's order that imposed Rs 1.51-crore penalty on Reliance Communications for alleged delay in submission of subscriber data and asked the government to refund the deposited amount within four weeks.
The Telecom Disputes Settlement and Appellate Tribunal was of opinion that penalty for delay in submission of data and Customer Application Forms (CAF) of its subscribers was wrongly imposed by the Department of Telecommunications (DoT) and set aside the various demand notes and letters in this regard.
"Keeping in view the facts and circumstances of the present case, we are of the opinion that the Petitioner (RCom) has wrongly been imposed with the demand of penalty and/or the interest accruing thereupon.
"The impugned demand notices dated... And other orders rejecting the representations of the Petitioner including those contained in the email dated 08.02.2012 and the letter dated 24.02.2012 are hereby set aside," said the TDSAT bench headed by its Chairman Justice S B Sinha.
It further asked the DoT to "refund the amount deposited by RCom within four weeks from date and on its failure to do so, DoT will have to pay the amount alongwith interest at the rate of nine percent per annum."
The DoT had issued a circular in June 2007 directing operators to provide data base, till last day of previous month, on a CD by 10th of every month. They were also mandated to provide CAF by 25th day of the month.
RCom had allegedly failed to submit its data for the month of May 2009 wherefor a reminder was issued to it. Later it filed on May 19 before the Telecom Enforcement, Resource and Monitoring (TERM) cells of the DoT.
It also filed some of CAFs on May 26 a day after the time limit and it was returned by TERM Cell. RCom requested TERM Cell not to levy the penalty for delay of a day in submitting the CAFs, which were rejected and was asked to pay penalty.
However, TDSAT was opinion that as per the circular, operators are given 10 days time for submitting CAFs after receiving data CD.
"In this case, there are several documents to show that the delay of RCom was only for a day. It has furthermore not been granted ten days time to file CAFs, which in terms of the guidelines itself it was entitled to," said TDSAT.