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February 7, 2000
High court disposes of petition against CPP
The Delhi High Court disposed of, on Monday, a petition by the Telecom Watchdog, a non-governmental organisation, seeking to challenge the Calling Party Pays system for cellular users and revenue sharing interconnection charges.
A division bench comprising Chief Justice S N Variava and Justice Cyriac Joseph said the matter may now be referred to the newly-bifurcated Telecom Regulatory Authority of India, which will consider it on merit.
On October 28, the court had stayed the CPP system, under which all incoming calls would have been free for cellular subscribers from November 1, 1999 and the charges were to be paid by callers from fixed telephone lines.
The Department of Telecommunications and the Mahanagar Telephone Nigam Limited also joined the petition, asserting that the CPP regime is against the interests of cellular and fixed line subscribers and only the business interests of private cellular operators are being looked into.
DoT counsel and solicitor-general Harish Salve argued during hearings that the government will lose more than Rs two billion as incremental costs for installing additional equipment if the CPP system was introduced.
Gopal Subramanium, counsel for the Cellular Operators Assocaition of India, said service providers will continue to maintain downward monthly rental of Rs 475 instead of Rs 600, as directed by the court. Also, the airtime charges for outgoing calls have been lowered to Rs 4 per minute from Rs 6 per minute from November 1, 1999.
The changes come after the abnormally high license fee regime was removed and replaced by a revenue sharing formula on August 1, 1999 under the National Telecom Policy.
On January 24, President K R Narayanan promulgated the TRAI (Amendment) Ordinance 2000 that also established the Telecom Disputes Settlement and Appellate Tribunal whose decision can be challenged only in the Supreme Court.
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