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SC on powers of TRAI and TDSAT

17 December, 2013

The Supreme Court of India has held that exercise of power by the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) under Section 36(1) of the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India Act, 1997 is not controlled or limited by Section 36(2) or Sections 11, 12 and 13.

The Apex Court held that in exercise of power under Section 36(1), TRAI can make regulations which may empower it to issue directions of general character applicable to service providers and others and it cannot be said that by making such regulations TRAI has encroached upon the field occupied by Sections 12(4) and 13 of the Act. The Court in this regard noted that there is nothing in the language of Section 36(2) from which it can be inferred that the provisions contained therein control the exercise of power by the Authority under Section 36(1) or that Section 36(2) restricts the scope of Section 36(1).

It was noted that power to make regulations under Section 36 is non-delegable. Further, it was held that Telecom Disputes Settlement Appellate Tribunal (TDSAT), in exercise of the power vested in it under Section 14(b) of the Act, does not have the jurisdiction to entertain challenge to the regulations framed by the Authority under Section 36 of the Act. [Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd. v. Telecom Regulatory Authority of India – Supreme Court Judgment dated 6-12-2013]
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