SC asks GSM and CDMA operators, BSNL to submit records to TRAI

New Delhi: The Supreme Court today directed parties to a carriage charge dispute, wherein telecom public sector undertaking (PSU) Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd (BSNL) is claiming Rs470 crore from players including Vodafone, Airtel and Tata Telecom, to submit details for verification by regulator Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI), reports PTI.

The apex court directed members of GSM operators' body Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI) and CDMA operators' body Association of Unified Telecom Service Providers of India (AUSPI) to submit records for the 12 November, 2005, to 31 March, 2009, period within two weeks.

"On receipt of CDR, TRAI would determine the amount payable at the interim stage of each of the operators towards carriage charges," said a bench comprising Chief Justice S H Kapadia and Justice Swatanter Kumar.

Moreover, the court also directed the telecom operators to submit an undertaking to pay the due amount, along with the interest fixed by the court.

The bench also directed the operators to cooperate with TRAI, while it calculated the amount to be paid to BSNL.

The apex court's direction came after it found a sharp difference between the claim of around Rs470 crore raised by BSNL and the chart submitted by COAI and AUSPI regarding their liability to pay carriage charges to the PSU.

According to the chart submitted by COAI, Vodafone has to pay Rs20 crore, Idea Rs25 crore, Airtel Rs78 crore and Aircel Rs5 crore. However, according to the PSU, Airtel, Tata Tele and Reliance alone owe Rs170 crore to BSNL.

Earlier, on 16th August, the apex court had directed private operators like Vodafone, Idea Cellular and Aircel to file affidavits stating their dues to BSNL along with a chart of their liabilities between November, 2005, and March, 2009.

BSNL levies carriage charges for forwarding calls originating from private telco networks to its own network and vice versa.

The court was hearing two petitions filed by COAI and AUSPI challenging the order of the Telecom Disputes Settlement and Appellate Tribunal (TDSAT), which had on 21 May, 2010, set aside TRAI's direction to BSNL to charge a uniform carriage charge of 20 paise for intra-circle calls.

According to the operators, TDSAT has also set aside two letters written by TRAI on May 17, 2006, to the PSU and "wrongly allowed BSNL to levy distance-based carriage charges on the appellant instead of a uniform carriage charge of 20 paise per minute in case of intra-circle."

The lobby groups have further submitted that TRAI, in its regulation, had directed BSNL to take 20 paise as carriage charges for all calls for and from private cellular mobile networks.

"However, in violation of the said IUC Regulation, BSNL was levying a distance-based carriage charge of 65 paise, 90 paise and Rs1.10 for distance slabs of 50 to 200 km, 200 to 500 km and above 500 km respectively," the operators said.

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