Delhi High Court has granted six weeks to Telecom Regulatory Authority of India to show action taken to ensure compliance with the Telecom Commercial Communication Customer Preference Regulation (TCCCPR), 2018.
TCCCPR Regulations make it mandatory for every telecom operator to register telemarketers in order to prevent online frauds and phishing through unsolicited commercial calls (UCCs) and SMSs.
While granting time to the telecom regulator to show degree of compliance with the said guidelines, the Division Bench of Chief Justice DN Patel and Justice Prateek Jalan highlighted that:
'TRAI should take action in accordance with law against those who are not complying with the regulations. We're not asking it to immediately take action against all the defaulters, but it should definitely take action against some of them to send out a message to others.'
The order has come in a plea moved by Paytm seeking protection of its consumers from the fraudulent phishing activities allegedly hosted on the platforms of multiple telecom service providers.
Appearing for Paytm, Senior Advocate Dushyant Dave submitted that a timeline of 4 weeks must be imposed on TRAI to ensure that all the telecom operators are registering the headers in compliance with the 2018 Regulations.
Mr Dave further argued that TRAI must exercise its power under Section 29 of the TRAI Act to take penal action against those telecoms that are not squarely complying with the 2018 Regulations.
'TRAI has itself stated in its affidavit that telecoms are not complying with the 2018 regulations, then why no action has been taken so far? If telecoms are not cooperating, they should be seen as collaborators of illegal telemarketers and penal action should be taken against them', Mr Dave argued.
While highlighting that the continuing proliferation of unregistered telemarketers is causing fraud worth of crores every month, Mr Dave submitted that unregistered headers must be removed forthwith to ensure the protection of the poor consumers.
Mr Dave said:
'Due to proliferation of phishing and frauds, consumers are filing FIRs against us (Paytm). Due to lack of penal action, telecoms are treating the regulations too lightly. These telecoms are making hundreds of crores from these unregistered telemarketers.'
Countering these allegations, Senior Advocate Rakesh Dwivedi, who was appearing for TRAI, submitted that the Regulator has taken steps, along with the cooperation of the telecoms, to ensure registration of telemarketers and compliance with the 2018 Regulations.
Mr Dwivedi further submitted that TRAI is only concerned with phishing committed through unsolicited commercial calls and it is not the competent authority to investigate other kinds of frauds.
Appearing for Airtel, Senior Advocate Kapil Sibal submitted that Airtel has shown 100% compliance with the 2018 Regulations.
Mr Sibal further argued that there's already grievance redressal mechanism in place within the TRAI Reputations. Therefore, if the Petitioner is aggrieved by non-compliance by a particular party, it can approach TRAI and an inquiry committee will be set up to look into the matter.
'These issues should be amicably resolved', Mr Sibal submitted.
It was further submitted by Mr Sibal that:
'This is the most technically complex mechanism that has been set up anywhere in the world. Such complex technical matters should be addressed by TRAI itself.'
Apart from Airtel, Vodafone, Idea, Jio and BSNL also submitted before the court that they have been complying with the 2018 Regulations since June 2020.
The matter will next be taken up on August 28