In the case of Vodafone-Idea v TRAI For each of the nation’s 21 circles, the TRAI had suggested that fines of 50 crore be imposed on Vodafone and Airtel in 2016. Both Vodafone and Airteltotalledmoney at Rupees 1,050. Additionally, TRAI suggested 950 crores in fines for the 19 circles it operated in. The fine against Vodafone and Idea now effectively totals close to 2,000 crores as a result of the merger.
Vodafone-Idea stated in their plea that the TRAI’s recommendation lacked jurisdiction and was improperly approved without following the rules of natural justice. They claimed that the TRAI’s conduct was planned to in some way establish a case against the petitioners for alleged violations of the licence terms.
Conclusion of the Court
Chief Justice Satish Chandra Sharma and Justice Subramonium Prasad of the Delhi High Court’s A Division Bench declined to overturn the Telecom Regulatory Authority’s (TRAI) recommendation to fine Vodafone-Idea about 2,000crorese for failing to connect to Reliance Jio.
The panel noted that the Telecom Disputes Settlement and Appellate Tribunal (TDSAT) is currently reviewing TRAI recommendations from 2016 as well as the Central government order dated September 29, 2021, which imposed the fine. The Court further noted that the TDSAT is authorised to handle the case and that it has already overturned the Central Government’s order. All issues originating under the TRAI Act shall be resolved by the TDSAT. The recommendation dated 21.10.2016, which is being contested in the current writ petitions, would be immediately annulled once the Tribunal determines that the Order dated 29.09.2021 passed by the Respondent is not legal. It concurred with the arguments made by the TRAI and the Centre that any judgements rendered by the High Court would be detrimental to the petitions submitted to the TDSAT.
The judgment order The instant writ petitions are dismissed, along with any pending applications, if any, in light of the foregoing. It is made clear that this Court has not expressed any opinions regarding the case’s merits. The decision on the merits of any matter, including the recommendation from October 21, 2016, which is being contested in the current petitions, is always up to the Tribunal.