The Chhattisgarh High Court has directed the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India and the Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd to place before the Centre (Department of Telecom) the issue of implementation of National Telecom Policy (NTP-2012), which envisages increasing the minimum speed of broadband in India, so that requisite steps can be taken to revive internet speed.
A bench of Chief Justice TBN Radhakrishnan and Justice Sharad Kumar Gupta ordered that officials concerned of BSNL and TRAI should place before the Centre the NTP-2012, which, among other things, envisages increasing the internet speed of 256 Kbps to 512 Kbps and subsequently to 2 Mbps by 2015, and higher speed of atleast 100 Mbps thereafter.
“Having regard to the substance of the matter involved in NTP 2012 and the extent of jurisdiction that could be exercised in terms of the Article 226 of the Constitution, we are of the view that all that could be done is to require the respondents to bring the issue raised by the petitioner to the notice of the first respondent so that requisite directions, as may be found necessary, could be considered for issuance to the third respondent for appropriate implementation of the contents of NTP 2012. We direct so.
“Let this direction be treated as one which obliges the officials concerned to place the matter appropriately for consideration at the requisite level of governance in the first respondent, in particular, the Department of Telecommunication,” the bench ordered while refusing to interfere in the policy decisions.
The bench passed the order on a PIL filed by Dilip Kumar Bhandari against the internet service providers throttling the speed of Internet under the garb of ‘Fair Usage Policy’, wherein after a certain limit of usage, the speed of Internet goes down to 512 Kbps.
His counsel Palash Tiwari and Prasoon Agrawal stated that “TRAI itself wants the speed of 2Mbps way back since the year 2008. After its recommendations, the DoT came up with NTP-2012 which envisages revising existing broadband speed of 256 Kbps to 512 Kbps and subsequently to 2 Mbps by 2015 and higher speeds of at least 100 Mbps thereafter”.
They said the Centre and its agencies concerned failed in their duties by not implementing NTP-2012.
The Centre submitted that the work of laying fiber optical cable in each and every village is in progress and by 2023, the nation can use high speed internet.
The bench said it cannot interfere in the policy matters while adding that the counter affidavit filed by the government reveals that “the government is in the process of considering different aspects and making efforts to effectuate the contents of the policy document relating to the Telecom sector”.
“They are not oblivious of the advice given by TRAI nor are they shown to have in any manner against the interest of effectuating the policy in the larger interest,” it said.