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October 12, 1999
The Delhi high court today stayed the operation of the show-cause notice issued by the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India to the Mahanagar Telephone Nigam Limited for launching its limited mobility telecom service from October 2.
A division bench comprising Justice Arun Kumar and Justice D K Jain passed the stay order on the plea of MTNL and sought the TRAI's records in the case.
The stay will be in operation till the next date.
Appearing for MTNL, Solicitor-General Soli Sorabjee said the TRAI has no jurisdiction in issuing the show-cause notice and it should be quashed.
MTNL has been accusing TRAI of dragging its feet over its cellular foray.
The TRAI had said in its show-cause notice that MTNL proceeded to implement the tariff for its cellular services in 'blatant disregard' of the provisions of 'telecommunications tariff order' 1999.
TRAI had claimed that MTNL violated specific directions from the regulator not to go ahead with the proposed tariff and asked MTNL Chairman and Managing Director S Rajagopalan to explain why penal action should not be taken against him under the TRAI Act.
MTNL had fixed a tariff of Rs 1.20 for three minutes for outgoing calls against the prevailing rate of Rs 6 per minute by private cellular operators. From November 1, the peak rate for private operators has been fixed at Rs 4 per minute with all incoming calls free.
MTNL plans to offer 9,000 connections in the first phase till December. Of these, about 6,500 will be offered as by-lines while the remaining will be given as fixed lines in order to satisfy waiting lists in areas where exchange capacity has been exhausted.
MTNL is using wireless in local loop technology based on 'code division multiple access' service to provide cellular mobile services in New Delhi and Bombay.
The services launch has generated a lot of controversy as private cellular operators claim that the move raised crucial issues regarding tariffs and cross-subsidisation of cellular and basic telecom services.
MTNL has promised to set up a separate subsidiary for cellular services and has agreed to pay 15 per cent of annual gross revenue to the Department of Telecommunications, the same condition as applicable to other cellular mobile service providers.
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