Telecom Disputes Settlement and Appellate Tribunal (TDSAT), the appellate authority for redressing telecom disputes, has directed the Department of Telecommunications (DoT) not to take any action against Bharti Airtel for not disconnecting mobile connections of customers with faulty details.
A bench headed by Justice S B Sinha also reserved its order on the interim plea of Bharti Airtel to stay the 'demand notes' issued by the government in this regard.
On 3 April, DoT had imposed additional penalty of Rs36.94 crore on Bharti Airtel, the country's largest telecom operator by subscriber base, for not disconnecting the subscribers who had submitted faulty customer application forms (CAFs).
It imposed a penalty of Rs111.25 crore after Telecom Enforcement Resource and Monitoring (TERM) Cells observed 'faulty CAFs' for March 2011, April 2011 and July 2011.
Bharti Airtel had challenged the penalty before TDSAT. However, the tribunal had asked the operator to pay 25 per cent of the total amount in an interim order in February 2012.
Bharti Airtel has termed the additional Rs36.94 crore penalty for not disconnecting connections having alleged faulty CAF as "penalty on penalty" and termed it as "illegal" and requested the tribunal to quash the same.
"While the dispute regarding rejection of these customer application forms (CAFs) itself is pending adjudication before this tribunal, there is no justification whatsoever for further penalising the petitioner for not disconnecting these mobile connections and/or taking any other action in that regard," said Bharti Airtel.
The tribunal is yet to pronounce its final verdict on the issue.