The Delhi High Court on Thursday asked the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) whether its order making it mandatory for cellular operators to compensate subscribers for call drops was the "only solution" to reduce call drops.
A division bench of Chief Justice G. Rohini and Justice Jayant Nath asked if the sector regulator if it had considered all the objections raised by the telecom operators before passing the October 16 order.
"The objection of the service provider does not reflect on the measures taken. Where is the application of mind? Was it the only solution?" the bench asked as it heard the plea of telecom operators for a stay on Trai's compensation policy for call drops, under which a rupee will be credited to the mobile users' account for every call drop (restricted to three per day) starting January 1, 2016.
Earlier, Trai had told the court that it will not take coercive steps against telecom companies for not complying with the call drop compensation norms till January 6.
On Thursday, the court did not pass any interim order saying if service providers begin compensating consumers for call drops as per the new Trai regulations, it won't be possible to recover them if the rule was set aside in future.
(Also see: Call Drops Due to Lack of Network Investment by Operators: Trai)
Additional Solicitor General P.S. Narasimha, appearing for Trai, said the order was taken after consumers began getting regular call drops. He said the telecom companies have not made enough investment on technology and infrastructure which could prevent call drops.
In first quarter of 2015, about 25,787 crores outgoing call were made, out of which in 200 crores cases of call drops were encountered by consumers. This is 0.77 percent of all call made, Narasimha told the court adding that service provider made about Rs. 36,781 crores during the period.
He further clarified that call drop compensation is applicable only when it has occurred from the call originator's network.
"We treated the compensation as a nominal penalty, so that they fall in line. That's why we kept it at only three calls. But consumers are asking to be compensated for all call drops," Narasimha said.
Senior advocate Abhishek Manu Singhvi, appearing for the telecom operators, argued that under the Quality of Service regulations, two percent of call drops are exempted. He also said that most cases of call drops were not because of the fault of the service providers as they have been facing difficulties in setting up new towers due to opposition from various fronts.