Today, the Supreme Court ordered Bharti Airtel & Vodafone Idea to submit details regarding segmented offers to the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI). However, the Court made it clear that such information submitted by both the telecom companies would be confidential. Segmented tariffs are plans offered to users who wish to leave a network as retention SOPs.
While hearing, the three-judge bench of Chief Justice of India SA Bobde comprising withJustices AS Bopanna and V Ramasubramanian have remarked that TRAI had issued such regulations in the interest of transparency and, thus, the same cannot be questioned.
TRAI had issued a general order making it mandatory for all telecom companies to report all such offers, but the Telecom Disputes Settlement and Appellate Tribunal (TDSAT) had scrapped the order. This prompted TRAI to appeal against the TDSAT order before the Supreme Court, which had earlier refused to stay the verdict. The regulator has since modified its order to seek information on segmented offers from the telecom companies for a limited period.
In its plea, TRAI had sought details from Bharti Airtel and Vodafone Idea on segmented or specific offers made by the telecom companies to their subscribers. The plea was opposed by Bharti Airtel and Vodafone Idea on the ground that it would violate commercial confidentiality and help rivals poach their subscribers.
Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, appearing for TRAI, said that neither can telecom companies cannot create a special class of consumers nor can they make discriminatory or anti-competitive offers. Mehta also argued that the operators should not act till the Court takes a call on the TRAI’s appeal against the TDSAT order which had ruled that the regulator had no power to call for such general information from carriers.
And appearing for Bharti Airtel, Senior Advocate Aspi Chenoy has argued that once the information was revealed, it would become public and help rivals to poach their subscribers.