Petition No. 179 of 2011. Case: Reliance Communications Ltd. Vs Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd.. TDSAT (Telecom Disputes Settlement & Appellate Tribunal)

Case NumberPetition No. 179 of 2011
CounselFor Appellant: Navin Chawla, Santosh Sachin, Advocates for Manali Singhal, Advocate and For Respondents: Maneesha Dhir, K.P.S. Kohli and Prashant Jain, Advocates
JudgesAftab Alam, J. (Chairperson) and Kuldip Singh, Member
IssueCode of Civil Procedure, 1908 (CPC) - Order II Rule 2; Code of Civil Procedure, 1908 (CPC) - Section 11; Constitution of India - Article 14; Indian Telegraph Act, 1885 - Section 4
Judgement DateJuly 08, 2015
CourtTDSAT (Telecom Disputes Settlement & Appellate Tribunal)


  1. Kuldip Singh: The dispute in the present petition is with regard to certain bills raised by the respondent on the petitioner allegedly for routing calls with tampered CLI1, non-CLI, invalid CLI, incomplete CLI, wrong routed calls etc. The petitioner is challenging the demand notices dated 30.11.2007, 21.12.2007, 29.12.2007, 10.02.2011 and disconnection notice(s) dated 14.2.2011 & 24.2.2011, issued by Kerala Unit of the respondent-BSNL.

  2. The Petitioner had been granted a license by the Department of Telecommunications under Section 4 the Indian Telegraph Act, 1885, as a Basic Service Operator (BSO) for provision of basic telephone services. Subsequently, the petitioner was permitted to migrate to a Unified Service License (UASL) in November 2003. The respondent is a wholly owned Government of India Enterprise and is providing telecommunications services in whole of India except Delhi and Mumbai.

  3. The petitioner and the respondent entered into an Interconnect Agreement for Basic Telephone Services for Kerala Circle on 25.01.2002. Subsequently, when the petitioner migrated to the UASL, an addenda to the Interconnect Agreement was signed between the parties on 21.09.2005.

  4. Clause 6.4.6 of the Interconnect Agreement and the addenda is relevant to the present dispute. The clause reads as under:


    (a) Unauthorized calls i.e. calls other than specified for that trunk group if detected, for which the applicable IUC (including ADC) is higher than IUC (including ADC) applicable for calls prescribed in that trunk group, then BSNL shall charge the UASL the highest applicable IUC (including ADC), as applicable for such unauthorized calls, for all the calls recorded on this trunk group from the date of provisioning of.

    (b) The CLI based barring facility shall be activated at the PoIs wherever technically feasible to ensure that the traffic handed over to BSNL is in the appropriate trunk groups only. Wherever it is technically not feasible to activate CLI based barring, periodic monitoring of the incoming trunk group shall be done by BSNL to ensure this objective. The calls received by BSNL without CLI or modified/tampered CLI from UASL shall be charged at the highest slab i.e. as for ISD calls. In case such calls are received by BSNL on any trunk group, then all the calls recorded on this trunk group shall be charged at the rates applicable for IUC of incoming ISD Calls from the date of provisioning of that PoI or for the preceding two months, whichever is less.

    (c) When CDR based billing is introduced in BSNL's network some of the trunk groups shall be merged. In such cases also, in case unauthorised or Incoming International Call, without CLI call, call with tampered CLI is handed over to BSNL at the merged trunk group, then BSNL shall charge the UASL the highest applicable IUC, as prescribed in clauses 6.4.6(a) above for unauthorised calls & 6.4.6(b) above for incoming International call, without CLI call, call with tampered CLI, for all calls recorded on this merged trunk group from the date of provisioning of that POI or for the preceding two months whichever is less.

    (d) In addition, BSNL shall also have the right for taking other legal actions including disconnection of POIs or temporary suspension of the interconnection arrangements under misuse.

  5. On or about 30.11.2007, 21.12.2007 and 29.12.2007, the Kerala Unit of the respondent, on the premise that the petitioner has tampered with the CLI (Calling Line Identification) and forwarded its calls through non-CLI, invalid CLI, incomplete CLI and wrong routed trunk group etc., raised demand notices on the petitioner for a sum of Rs. 96.53 crores which was subsequently revised to Rs. 90.37 crores. These demand notices were challenged by the petitioner before the Tribunal vide Petition No. 2 of 2008. The Tribunal vide interim order dated 4.01.2008 stayed the operation of these notices directing the petitioner to deposit 65% of the total demand. The petition was disposed of by the Tribunal by judgment dated 15.4.2010 directing the respondent to handover the relevant CDRs (Call Data Record) to the petitioner so as to enable it to offer explanation about the same.

  6. The respondent filed an appeal against the above judgment of the Tribunal before the Hon'ble Supreme Court being Appeal No. 4882-4883 of 2010. This appeal was disposed of vide order dated 29.09.2010 recording the statement of the learned Solicitor General appearing for BSNL that it would be providing CDRs to Reliance Communications Ltd. (the petitioner herein) within 4 weeks of the date of the order to quantify IUC charges payable as per agreement. However, the question of interpretation of clause 6.4.6 was kept open. Subsequently, the apex court, in Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd. (appellant) Vs. Reliance Communication Ltd. (respondent), C.A. No. 6706 of 2010, has held that clause 6.4.6 is not a penal clause but represents a pre-estimate of reasonable compensation. It was clarified in the judgment that it was restricted only to the interpretation of Clause 6.4.6 of the interconnect agreement read with the addenda.

  7. On 10.02.2011, the respondent asked the petitioner to pay Rs. 87,79,04,983/- towards interest, and by bill dated 14.2.2011 the respondent asked the petitioner to pay the principal amount2 of Rs. 31,63,21,053/- along with interest of Rs. 87,79,04,983/-. On 24.02.2011, the respondent issued a disconnection notice stating as under:

    Please refer to the letter cited at reference above vide which it was requested to pay the outstanding dues in respect of tampering of CLI of ILD calls by M/s. Reliance by 24.02.2011 as per the details given below:

    This office has not received the outstanding dues as detailed above till date.

    Hence, it is again requested to make payment of all the aforesaid dues of Rs. 119,42,26,036/- (Rupees one hundred and nineteen crore forty two lakhs twenty six thousand and thirty six only) immediately failing which, actions as envisaged as per the following clauses of the Interconnect Agreement shall be taken.

  8. It is the contention of the petitioner that though the respondent did not supply the complete and readable CDRs as it was required to do, the petitioner has analysed the incomplete CDRs to the extent possible and found that there was no tampering of the CLI by it. As per the petitioner, since there is no tampering of CLI, the demand of ADC and interest thereon is not payable by it. The petitioner accordingly addressed a letter dated 14.03.2011 to the respondent. The pleadings of the petitioner in this regard are as under:

    28. It is submitted that the Respondent herein has raised the bill for the alleged tampered CLI, non-CLI, invalid CLI and wrong routed calls. It is essential to elaborate the concepts of tampered CLI, non - CLI, invalid/incomplete CLI and wrong routing of calls etc. It is submitted that:

    (i) CLI is said to be tampered when the number of the calling party is deliberately altered/modified/concealed from the called party through some mechanism during transmission of the call.

    (ii) CLI is said to be invalid/incomplete when the number of the calling party having different number digits than those which are reflected to the called party when the call is made.

    (iii) A non CLI call is a call in which number of the calling party does not appear to the called party at all.

    (iv) A call is said to be wrongly routed when the call is delivered in a Trunk Group of...

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