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Vodafone plea challenging TRAI recommendation premature: Centre

The Centre termed as “premature” the plea by telecom major Vodafone challenging TRAI’s recommendation to impose Rs 1,050 crore penalty on it for not providing interconnectivity to Reliance Jio.

Additional Solicitor General (ASG) Sanjay Jain, appearing for the Centre, argued before Justice Sanjeev Sachdeva that Vodafone’s plea was a “complete abuse of process of court” as the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) had only made a recommendation and the government was yet to form an opinion.

The ASG opposed the maintainability of the petition, saying once the Department of Telecommunications (DoT) of the Ministry of Communication takes a decision, then it is an appealable order.

He also questioned whether the telecom major had any material with it to show that the government would be influenced by TRAI’s recommendation.

The court, thereafter, gave the Ministry and TRAI two weeks time to file their reply on the issue of maintainability of the petition and listed it for hearing on February 6. During the brief arguments, the court suggested that before forming an opinion the DoT may also consider objections raised by Vodafone in its plea along with the recommendation of TRAI.

However, senior advocate Rajiv Nayar, appearing for Vodafone, did not agree with the suggestion and urged the court to decide whether TRAI exceeded its jurisdiction by giving the recommendation.

On December 22, 2016, the court had refrained from directing the Centre or any other authority not to act upon TRAI’s recommendation as no one except the regulator was a party in the case.

The court had, thereafter, made DoT a respondent in the matter.

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