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Anybody free to challenge tariff order in court: TRAI

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Press Trust of India Barcelona (Spain)
Telecom regulator Trai today said anybody is free to move court against its tariff order after operators threatened to challenge the new rules while terming them "not fair".

"Ours is a free country where every individual or entity has a right to seek legal remedies. If somebody is aggrieved with the tariff order, challenging it before appropriate forum will be the the right approach," Trai Chief RS Sharma told PTI.

He was replying to a question on Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI) planning to challenge Trai's predatory pricing rule in court.

Earlier also, such baseless allegations were made and the matter had gone to TDSAT and the court had upheld Trai's decision, Sharma said.

Under the new rules, Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) will impose financial disincentive of up to Rs 50 lakh per circle on operators if their service rates are found to be predatory in nature.

A tariff will be considered predatory if in a "relevant market", a telecom operator with over 30 per cent market share offers services at a price which is below the average "variable cost", with a view to reduce competition or eliminate the competitors in the "relevant market".

Reacting to the new rules, Vodafone Group CEO Vittorio Colao here said: " It sounds like you have to fight somebody with hands tied at the back. That is not fair."

COAI is evaluating legal options and may also approach Department of Telecom and Prime Minister's Office on their grievances against the regulator's decision.

Its members Bharti Airtel, Idea Cellular and Vodafone have raised concern on Jio's rates. Airtel has termed Jio tariff predatory. COAI has alleged that order by Trai has put all but one operator at a huge disadvantage and that its regulations had distorted the market.

Without naming Jio, the association also alleged that Trai's orders appeared "to be strengthening the ambitions of one particular operator with deep pockets and monopolistic designs at the expense of other operators".

Mukesh Ambani-led Reliance Jio has sent legal notice to COAI for veiled reference to it as being the sole beneficiary of Trai's regulations.

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First Published: Feb 27 2018 | 5:20 PM IST

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