On Ordinance Amending TRAI Act

Thursday, January 20, 2000

Press Statement

The Polit Bureau of the Communist Party of India (Marxist) has issued the following statement:

The Polit Bureau of the Communist Party of India (Marxist) strongly opposes the BJP-led government’s decision to amend the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India Act by an ordinance. The Ordinance is another mindless act in the series of such measures that constitute the telecom reforms in the country.

The proposed Ordinance seeks to remove the High Court’s jurisdiction with regard to license terms and conditions and its powers to review TRAI’s recommendations. This has to be seen in the light of the Delhi High Court striking down the TRAI’s order on Calling Party to Pay scheme, and asking the private operators to pass on the benefits to the subscribers, of the new revenue sharing regime. By this, the government is seeking to reverse the judicial intervention made in favour of the subscribers and help the private cellular operators. It is instructive that the appeal against the change from the fixed license fee regime to a revenue sharing one is also pending in the same High Court.

The other pernicious aspect of the proposed Ordinance is that it dissolves the TRAI, a body set up under an Act of Parliament and reconstitutes it under an Executive flat. If this is accepted any statutory body can be thus dismissed and reconstituted with a more favourable composition through just an ordinance.

The CPI(M) calls upon the Vajpayee government to place its proposals before parliament and not promulgate an ordinance which is totally undemocratic.