TRAI Moves Supreme Court Against TDSAT Ruling on Predatory Pricing

TRAI Moves Supreme Court Against TDSAT Ruling on Predatory Pricing

The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) has approached the Supreme Court against a TDSAT order that set aside the regulator’s predatory pricing tariff rules, said Union Communications Minister Manoj Sinha on Wednesday.

In a written reply to the Lok Sabha, the Minister said that the appeal is yet to be listed in the apex court. 

On December 13, the the Telecom Disputes Settlement and Appellate Tribunal (TDSAT) had dismissed TRAI’s order dated February 16, 2018 on predatory pricing due to lack of “transparency”.

As per the TRAI rule, a tariff could be predatory only if an operator with over 30 per cent market share offers tariffs lower than the average variable cost. TDSAT’s order struck down this rule.

“TRAI has filed an appeal before the Supreme Court against the order of the TDSAT dated 13th December, 2018. The appeal is yet to be listed,” Sinha said.

He said “transparency in tariff” is a prime concern of the government. 

“To protect the interests of consumers of telecommunications services, the TRAI has issued several tariff orders, directions and guidelines in order to ensure transparency in tariff offers from time to time,” he said. 

“In the recent past, the TRAI has again reviewed the transparency measures and undertook a consultation process on issues, inter-alia, including transparency in tariff offers. After the consultation process, the Telecommunications Tariff (63rd Amendment) Order, 2018 dated February 16, 2018, was notified by TRAI.”

In the order, dismissing the TRAI’s rule, the TDSAT had observed that allowing freedom from requirement of non-predation till acquisition of 30 per cent share in any market would be an extreme step and an unnecessary abdication of TRAI’s regulatory powers in the context of tariff conditions and their enforcement.

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