TDSAT rejects Reliance Communications plea to stay penalty over SIM verifications

Telecom tribunal TDSAT has rejected the plea of Reliance Communications seeking stay on the penalty imposed by the government for selling activated SIMs without proper verification in the Rajasthan circle.

Passing an interim order, the tribunal said that there was “no violation of the principles of natural justice” by DoT while imposing Rs 88.50 lakh penalty.

It further said, “Keeping in view the nature of the acts and commissions on the part of the distributor of petitioner (RCom), we are of the opinion that no interim order, as has been prayed for by the petitioner, should be passed. The prayer for interim order is, therefore, rejected.”

The Telecom Enforcement, Resource and Monitoring (TERM) cell of DoT had seized 186 Customer Application Forms (CAFs) from the premises of one of RCom’s distributor at Bharatpur in Rajasthan on August 19, 2011.

TERM Cell found that proper verification was not been carried out by RCom and at the time of provisioning of service to the subscribers as 177 CAFs out of the total 186 CAFs investigated are non-compliant. It also found that CAF of 139 were incompletely filled/blank and/or unsigned.

It further stated that RCom has “violated the terms and condition of License Agreement and the instructions issued from time to time by the Licensor (DoT) on the subject by providing mobile connection without proper verification”.

DoT provided RCom a chance to present its view by way of representation, in which the company contended that all such connections were disconnected and an FIR was lodged against its distributor by it.

RCom further said that the company was given only 15 days against the 60 days prescribed time. Besides, it said it could verify 110 customers out of 186 CAF and sought more time to verify the rest. DoT rejected that and asked the company to deposit the penalty within a week on December 30.

This was challenged by RCom before the tribunal, contending that connections were already disconnected, distributorship was terminated and FIR was lodged and such a huge penalty would be unjust on it.

Not satisfied with RCom’s arguments, TDSAT said, “… we do not find any reason as to why such irregularities had been permitted to be continued for a long time”. However, on the disputed question of facts, the tribunal said it would decide later at the trial.

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