Justice BC Patel, former Chief Justice of Delhi High Court has said that incumbent operators Airtel, Vodafone and Idea Cellular should be asked to pay a penalty of Rs 9,900 crore together due to alleged breach of license conditions by not providing interconnection points to Reliance Jio.
Justice Patel said so in a letter to telecom minister Manoj Sinha, where he stated that the actions of these operators are in "clear violation of several clauses of their license which should invite strict action from the Department of Telecom in its capacity as Licensor" and hence a penalty of Rs 3,300 crore should be imposed on these operators individually.
"Having studied this matter in detail, I am convinced that this is a clear case of anti-customer and anti-competitive actions being taken by these operators which must be stopped at all costs," the letter said.
Citing newspaper reports on operators not providing adequate interconnectivity to Jio, Justice Patel said that with the entry of Reliance Jio in the market, the three telecom operators "are taking measures which are against the interest of consumers." He further noted that incumbent telecom operators are also refusing the option for mobile number portability to their existing subscribers opting to shift to Reliance Jio without any valid reasons.
"...As a conscientious citizen of this nation, I cannot stand by and be a silent spectator to these events when it is obvious to anyone that the action of these three telecom operators is illegal and clearly in breach of their licence terms which calls for urgent and strong action including imposition of penalty by the Department of Telecom," the letter said.
It said that the three operators - Airtel, Vodafone and Idea - provide services in 22 circles and issues related to interconnection; service quality and mobile number portability exist on all the circles for these operators. "For these three operators, the total penalty amount comes to Rs 3,300 crore X 3, that is Rs 9,900 crore," the letter pointed out.