India’s Joint Parliamentary Committee (JPC) has called for the government to make amendments to the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) Act, to give the watchdog greater influence, noting that ‘once TRAI forwards its recommendations, the government is at liberty to accept, reject or keep it pending, without citing any tangible reason.’ The Business Standard writes that the JPC found that many TRAI recommendations were ignored by the government for a long time and in some cases the government’s decision was not even communicated to the regulator. In 2005, the government did not go ahead with TRAI’s recommendations regarding the auctioning of spectrum and did not inform the regulator of its decision.
The JPC went on: ‘In the opinion of the committee, an independent regulator cannot be effective if its recommendations are to be left entirely at the mercy of the government. Therefore, the committee are of the unequivocal view that government should decisively respond to the recommendations of TRAI within a (time frame) as it is currently mandatory for TRAI to respond to a reference by the government within 60 days. Such a move will lend more credibility to the role of the regulator which is going to be increasingly crucial in the times ahead. The committee, therefore, recommend that the TRAI Act be suitably amended to incorporate provisions to ensure that a harmonious balance is maintained between the regulator and the licensor in the matter of treating the recommendations from TRAI.’