Mumbai: State-run BSNL has moved the Telecom Disputes Settlement and Appellate Tribunal (TDSAT), challenging sector regulator Telecom Regulatory Authority of India's (TRAI) decision to reduce the access deficit charge (ADC), a levy that BSNL charges private operators for offsetting the cost of telecom services in rural areas.
TDSAT chairman Justice Arun Kumar, while taking up the petition, issued notice to TRAI and directed it to file reply.
The tribunal also asked mobile operators' associations, AUSPI and COAI, who wanted to be impleaded in the case, to file an application and also submit a list of their members.
Private telecom operators have been paying BSNL access deficit charges since 2003 to offset the cost incurred by the public sector firm in operations in rural operations.
TRAI had, on March 21, announced a 37 per cent reduction in ADC for 2007-08 bringing the total ADC receivables of BSNL down to Rs 2,000 crore from Rs 3,200 crore earlier. The new rates are effective from April 1.
As per TRAI's roadmap, ADC will be completely abolished by 2008-09.
In its petition, BSNL has contended that TRAI has framed the new interconnect usage charges regulation without considering ''''relevant circumstances and taking into account irrelevant factors."
"It is a total non-application of mind and a complete disregarding of the implementation of the principle of level playing field," BSNL said, asking the tribunal to quash TRAI's regulation.
"TRAI is neither permitted nor has any right to make a declaration without having regard to the actual principles underlying ADC and the future scenario," BSNL contended.
BSNL also asked the TDSAT to issue direction to TRAI "to consider and provide reimbursement to BSNL of the requisite amount of ADC remained unpaid for the period of March 1, 2006 to March 31, 2007" and onwards.
The PSU has already challenged TRAI's earlier regulation of March 22, 2006 in which TRAI had reduced the ADC paid to it.
The case is listed for hearing in the first week of May.