The high court warned Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) of imposing a cost on it for failing to implement the law and granted it eight weeks to take action.
A bench of Chief Justice D N Patel and Justice Prateek Jalan said the court expects that TRAI will adjudicate the show cause notices issued by it to the unregistered entities and persons and some progress will be shown on the action taken.
The court noted that TRAI’s counsel has shown some definitions of provisions but said they are of no use if no action is to be taken by the telecom regulator after issuance of show cause notices.
“We expect TRAI to adjudicate upon the show cause notices,” the bench said.
During the hearing, the bench questioned the TRAI for not taking any action against anyone even when the law has been enacted for so long.
“Have you taken any action/ are you going to take any action… Suppose there is no fraud, will you allow them to work like this and remain unregistered. Start taking action against at least 10 persons. Why are you feeling shy, take action against one or two and let them come to the court then we will deal with it,” it said.
Advocate Arjun Natarajan, representing TRAI, said he was making a statement that TRAI shall take steps for barring unregistered headers.
He sought four weeks time to take action against unregistered entities or against whom the show cause notices have been issued.
The court, however, granted it eight weeks time to show progress was made with regard to registration of the headers, unregistered telemarketers and principal entities. It also asked TRAI to file an additional affidavit.
The observations and direction by the bench came while hearing a plea by One97 Communications Ltd, which runs online payment platform Paytm, alleging that telecom operators are not blocking “phishing” activities over various mobile networks.
Phishing is a cyber crime where people are contacted by e-mail, phone calls or text messages by someone posing as a legitimate representative of a organisation to lure them to part with their sensitive data, including banking and credit card details and passwords
Senior advocate Dushyant Dave, appearing for Paytm, said he was only seeking strict implementation of the Telecom Commercial Communications Customer Preferences Regulations (TCCCPR) 2018, which was notified by the TRAI to curb problem of unsolicited commercial communications, by TRAI and the telecom companies.
The counsel had earlier contended that unregistered players are operating on a large scale leading to frauds to the tune of Rs 1-2 crore being committed against Paytm customers every month.
He had said that all unregistered headers should be removed forthwith and not be allowed to operate on the mobile networks and if telecom companies do not take such steps, then penal action be taken against them.
TRAI had earlier said that it had registered 50,000 headers and 80,000 principal entities and the work of registration was going on.
Examples of some registered headers are — Paytm, PYTM, PTM, IPAYTN, PYTKYC.
Airtel’s counsel had said it was complying with the regulations and the same stand was taken by Vodafone-Idea, Reliance Jio, MTNL and BSNL.
Paytm, in its plea filed through advocate Karuna Nandy, has claimed that millions of its customers have been defrauded by the phishing activities over the mobile networks and the failure of the telecom companies to prevent the same has “caused financial and reputational loss” to it for which it has sought damages of Rs 100 crore from them.
Paytm has contended that the telecom majors are violating their obligations under the TCCCPR 2018.