The Telecom Dispute Settlement and Appellate Tribunal (TDSAT) has directed Bharti Airtel to pay 50 per cent of the Rs50 crore penalty imposed on it by the department of telecommunications (DoT), for issuing bulk mobile connections in violation of licence terms and conditions.
Passing the interim order, the tribunal said justice demanded that the company pay the sum. TDSAT, however, said the payment of penalty, however, would not in any way prejudice the hearing of Bharti's plaint against the penalty.
TDSAT also directed Bharti Airtel, the country's largest telecom operator, to pay the Rs25-crore to DoT within two weeks.
DoT had, on 19 September, imposed the penalty on Bharti Airtel after it found that the company had issued 1,847 bulk mobile connections to Delhi Super Trade Pvt. Ltd (Falcon Business Resource Pvt Ltd) and 741 to Galaxy Rent-A-Tel Pvt Ltd, violating the terms and conditions of its licence agreement.
These companies were said to have been taking bulk mobile connections from Bharti Airtel and renting out the same to individuals. Investigations have shown that Bharti Airtel had not only illegally authorised the two companies to give on rent the SIM cards and handsets to the customers who had actually been carrying out activities like a mobile service provider with fixation of their own CAF, bill and tariff plan, roaming rates, support services, bill collection, customer care, risk and credit management etc, relying on or on the basis of the said purported agreements.
The DoT had directed Bharti to stop the renting of domestic side SIM cards. However, from the data base of the petitioner submitted for May 2008 it appeared that 10,519 connections had been in operation in the name of the said companies, which would show that they had continued to do the business of MT SIM cards.
The IB had further found that out of 235 mobile numbers, 96 mobile numbers belonged to the petitioner and the same on analysis showed that 55 mobile numbers could not be traced and 2 mobile numbers had still been working in the name of the company Felcal; the remaining 39 mobile numbers working in the name of various embassies.