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Thursday, March 22, 2007

JAAGO GUJARAT : Cell phone companies in RTI loop

RAHUL MANGAONKAR , Thanks to Right to Information (RTI) Act, one can now demand accountability from the mobile service providers (MSPs), which is what AL Aggarwal did recently.
He sought to know from TRAI whether his MSP was competent to charge any amount own its whims without written consent from the customers. He asked how many customers were being charged.
Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) Act was passed in 1997 to regulate the telecom industry. TRAI’s status as a public authority is unquestionable while MSPs it regulates may claim immunity as non-public authorities under RTI.
Under RTI, if any public authority can access information from any private body, under any other law for the time being in force, then access to this information is also your right as defined under section 2.(f).
The TRAI Act also states that TRAI can “call upon any service provider at any time to furnish in writing such information or explanation relating to its affairs as they may require; or appoint one or more persons to make an inquiry in relation to the affairs of any service provider.”
Therefore to make MSPs accountable, ask TRAI.
Responding to Aggarwal’s query, the TRAI CPIO replied; “As per TRAI direction of May 3, 2006 to Cellular Mobile Access Providers; no chargeable value added service shall be provided to a customer without his explicit consent. Also that any value added service which was earlier being provided free of charge shall not be made chargeable without the explicit consent of the customer.”
The CPIO assured that the MSP has to carry out their directions. Also since TRAI carries out a quasi judicial function, in case if it is proved that the MSP has violated their directions, they have to take the matter in court. However, TRAI has assured that they would definitely take up the matter on the complaint and will inform Aggarwal accordingly.
Publication: Times Of India Ahmedabad; Date:2007 Mar 15; Section:Gujarat; Page Number 5

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