Supreme Court allows BSNL to challenge Access Deficit Charge removal

10 Nov 2009

India’s Supreme Court has announced that it will allow state-owned telco Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd (BSNL) to appeal the removal of the Access Deficit Charge (ADC), the Economic Times reports. The ADC, a levy paid by privately-owned operators to fund public sector telecoms projects in rural and remote regions, was removed in March 2009. Following the court’s ruling it has called on the Telecoms Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI), the Association of Unified Telecom Service Providers of India (AUSPI), the Cellular Operators of India (COAI) and a number of private players for their views on the matter. The court has also ordered that all companies will be required to make payments, if any become due following the final ruling in the case.

Previously, in May 2009 India’s Telecom Disputes Settlement & Apellate Tribunal (TDSAT) had dismissed an earlier plea by BSNL with regard to the scrapping of the charge. However, in its latest appeal, BSNL noted that: ‘The ADC, which is a part of the interconnection usage charges (IUC) regime, is statutory and the same is admissible to the appellant, BSNL, as a matter of legal right. Thus, till such time [as] BSNL is made to provide below-cost landline services and rural telephony, the requisite amount should be continued to be paid…in the form of ADC, and the TRAI does not have any right to reduce the ADC or to eliminate the same, disregarding the rationale behind the ADC.’