Kochi, Feb 24 (UNI) Declaring that there was no conflict between the Telecom Disputes Settlement and Appellate Tribunal (TDSAT) and the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI), TDSAT chairman Justice (Retd.) N Santosh Hegde today dismissed reports of a ''growing tussle'' between the two bodies.
Addressing a press conference here, Justice Hegde referred to certain reports on a ''growing tussle'' between the TDSAT and the TRAI, especially after the former stayed the four per cent hike in cable service charges imposed by the TRAI.
''There is no question of any conflicting interests. We are operating in different areas. TRAI is entrusted with the job of regulating the functioning of the cable, telecommunication and broadcasting areas while we are mandated to adjudicate on any dispute between a licensor and licensee, two or more service providers, between a service provider and a group of consumers and to hear and dispose of appeals against any decision or order of the TRAI,'' he said.
Stating that the tribunal, which was set up in 2000 under an act of Parliament, had adopted a very ''consumer-friendly'' approach, Justice Hegde said that even while deciding on disputes between service providers, the tribunal's main objective was to safeguard the interest of the consumers.
Tribunal member Lt Gen (Retd.) D P Sehgal said that with the Central Government expanding the meaning of telecommunications in 2004 to include broadcasting and cable services also, nearly 70 to 80 per cent of the cases before the tribunal now pertained to cable services.
With the telecommunication sector maturing to some extent, the teething troubles of the service providers were settled now, he said.
The three-member TDSAT, which also includes fromer Telecom Commission chairman Vinod Vaish, will be organising a one-day seminar here tomorrow to educate consumers about their legal rights and remedies available for settling disputes with service providers, Justice Hegde said.
Claiming a fast rate of disposal of cases, he said that of the 452 cases filed with the tribunal since 2001, only 163 were pending.
Stating that the number of cases being filed with the tribunal was on the increase, Justice Hegde said that while a total of 55 cases was filed in 2001, the number rose to 174 in 2005. In the first two months of this year, 63 cases had already come up before the tribunal and according to projections the total number of cases may shoot up to 700 by the end of this year.
In reply to a question, he said while there was no need for an increase in the number of TDSAT members at present, this might become necessary if the number of cases rise uncontrollably.
Mr Vaish did not see the BSNL attaining monopoly following the 'One India Plan' and said that with the reduction in the access deficit charges, all players in the telecom sector might be coming up with similar plans by next month.
UNI ARC VV PA PC1948