Prasad rejects calls for greater powers for TRAI

15 Jun 2016

Telecom Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad has rejected a call to amend the Telecom Regulatory Authority (TRAI) Act to grant the watchdog greater powers regarding dropped calls. The Economic Times writes that Rajeev Chandrasekhar, a member of the Rayja Sabha (India’s Upper House), had written to the minister, expressing the need for the TRAI to have ‘broad power to protect consumers,’ adding that ‘[the] entire technology sector has changed since the time the TRAI Act was made’ and that the regulator needs more power. The minster rejected the call, however, stating that the TRAI already has ‘wide ranging powers’ and as such, ‘the need to change the TRAI Act is not felt at this juncture.’

Mr Prasad’s dismissal may not be the final word, though, as the paper cites a source within the Department of Telecommunications (DoT) as saying that the ministry is ‘taking a relook’ at the matter, having received a similar request from the TRAI itself. In a letter earlier this month, the TRAI requested power to levy financial penalties of up to INR100 million (USD1.48 million) on companies and custodial sentences of up to two years for executives of companies that fail to comply with regulations. The request has already met resistance, with operators describing the plans as ‘draconian,’ whilst telecom secretary J S Deepak commented: ‘In my personal opinion I do not think an executive should be sent to jail for every call drop.’