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Airtel Challenges TRAI Decision To Allow Extended Reliance Jio Free Services

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Bharti Airtel, India’s largest telecom operator, has moved telecom dispute tribunal TDSAT against TRAI allowing Mukesh Ambani-led Reliance Jio to continue free promotional offer beyond stipulated 90 days, charging the telecom regulator of being a “mute spectator” to violations.

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In its 25-page petition filed before Telecom Disputes Settlement and Appellate Tribunal (TDSAT), Airtel has asked the body to direct TRAI to ensure that Jio does not provide its free voice and data plan beyond December 3. Reliance Jio extended its free services till March 31st 2017 by introducing Jio Happy New Year offer earlier this month. Jio first launched an inaugural free voice and data plan beginning September 4 and earlier this month extended it till March 31.

Giving reasons for its petition, Airtel said the “free services” continue in blatant violation of the TRAI’s Directions, Tariff Orders and the Regulations with “TRAI as a mute spectator”.

When the petition was mentioned before a bench of TDSAT today, Jio counsel was present who asked to be impleaded as a party to the case. TRAI submitted that it needs 10 more days to take a decision.

TDSAT directed TRAI to come back with its decision on the next day and directed Reliance Jio to file an impleadment application.

Airtel in the petition alleged that TRAI in its decision dated October 20 “erroneously concluded” that since the Jio’s promotional offer of free services was only valid till December 3, it is consistent with the “90 days” directions of TRAI.

Also Read : Reliance Jio To Hit 100 Million Subcribers By March, says Fitch Ratings

“The TRAI further without affording any reasoning baldly, cryptically and in a non-transparent manner in violation of Section 11(4) of the TRAI Act concluded that the Tariff Plans offered by the said TSP are not non-compliant with IUC and are not predatory and discriminatory at present. The impugned decision of TRAI is thus bad in law and deserves to be quashed,” it said.

The appeal, it said, has been filed against TRAI’s October 20 decision as well as against its “continued failure to fulfil its statutory obligation” under TRAI Act by prohibiting the blatant violation of its own Tariff Orders and Regulations.

The next date of hearing has been set on January 6.

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