The Delhi high court on Thursday fixed a timeframe for the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India to complete the formalities of shaping up the law to bar unsolicited commercial calls made to consumers on their cellphones.
The telecom regulator has already prepared a consultation paper on unsolicited commercial communication and invited suggestions from stakeholders, the deadline for which is Friday.
A division bench comprising Justice Mukul Mudgal and Justice J P Singh has asked Trai to submit a proposal before the court on February 8, 2007.
The bench passed the order after hearing the writ petition of the Cellular Operators' Association of India, which has appealed against the direction of the State Consumer Redressal Forum to Trai, asking it to regulate unsolicited calls. Although the association had sought relief against the forum's order, the judges converted the petition into a public interest litigation on the ground that unsolicited commercial calls were harassing consumers.
Trai advocate Meet Malhotra submitted a copy of the consultation paper to the court. He told the court that an open house discussion had already been held since the consultation paper was prepared on November 20.
Trai's consultation paper offers various alternate solutions to bar unsolicited calls. One of the suggestions is to maintain a do-not-call register. By listing on the DNC, a subscriber can avoid unsolicited calls.
Trai has also ruled out the possibility that the introduction of a DNC register will affect the call centre industry or the marketing sector.
According to Trai, most of these businesses engage international clients, whereas the DNC rules will apply only to domestic users, and therefore, will not influence the industry in the long-run.
The other option, which Trai is looking at is to have a "do-call" register. In this case, only those subscribers can be called who opt-in to the do-call register and allow unsolicited calls.
The consultation paper also suggests penalising a violator with either a heavy fine or charge telemarketers a higher rate for calls or messages sent to subscribers listed on a DNC register.Trai is also mulling options related to the control of location and management of a DNC register. However, it has specified that the register must contain phone numbers only with area codes of the subscribers who have chosen to list their numbers.