Petition No. 197 of 2013. Case: Vodafone Spacetel Ltd. Vs Union of India. TDSAT (Telecom Disputes Settlement & Appellate Tribunal)

Case NumberPetition No. 197 of 2013
CounselFor Appellant: Meet Malhotra, Sr. Advocate, Navin Chawla, Santosh Sanchin and Manali Singhal, Advocates and For Respondents: S.S. Shamshery and Vikas Malik, Advocates
JudgesAftab Alam, J. (Chairperson), Dr. Kuldip Singh and B.B. Srivastava, Members
IssueIndian Telegraph Act, 1885 - Section 4
Judgement DateDecember 02, 2015
CourtTDSAT (Telecom Disputes Settlement & Appellate Tribunal)


Dr. Kuldip Singh, Member

  1. The petitioner Vodafone Spacetel Limited has been granted Unified Access Service Licenses by the respondent under section 4 of the Indian Telegraph Act. It is aggrieved by the imposition of a penalty of Rs. 50,000/- per connection for alleged violation of license conditions regarding verification of subscribers in its M.P. Service Area.

  2. Briefly stated the facts of the case are as under:

    Department of Telecom (DoT) of the respondent, U.O.I., vide its circular dated 09.08.2012 issued instructions regarding tele-verification of subscribers before activating their connections, to its licensees. A penalty of Rs. 50,000/- was envisaged for every SIM card1 that was found to be pre-activated i.e. activated before due verification of the subscriber. These guidelines were to come in force in three months from the date of the circular i.e. from 09.11.2012.

  3. We may explain the process of tele-verification of a subscriber briefly in order to put the facts in their proper perspective. When a customer wants a mobile connection, it has to fill a form called CAF (Customer Acquisition Form) giving details of the customer. It has also to provide proof of its identity, address etc. It is then issued a SIM card which is yet to be activated. When this SIM card is inserted in a handset, it cannot be used to make or receive any calls other than those to the service provider who issued the SIM card. The service providers provide a short code2 that is used to talk to an operator who verifies the details of the subscriber as filled by it on the CAF. After the successful verification of the subscriber, its mobile connection is activated enabling it to make outgoing calls and receive incoming calls as well as use other services as subscribed.

  4. On 07.12.2012, the respondent sent an e-mail to the petitioner asking it to provide the details of the short-code used for tele-verification and also the Call Data Records (CDRs) of all the calls made to this short code during the period from 09.11.2012 to 07.12.2012. Subsequently the respondent, vide email dated 31.12.2012, informed the petitioner that on analysis of the CDRs it was found that a single IMEI3 was used multiple times for activating multiple MSISDNs4. The petitioner was asked to explain within a week why the same should not be considered as a violation of the clause 3(vi) of Circular dated 09.08.2012. A reminder was also sent by the respondent on 11.01.2013. On 30.01.2013, the respondent sent another e-mail to the petitioner asking it to provide the CAFs corresponding to 5 IMEIs that had highest number of activations, within 10 days. As the petitioner did not supply the CAFs, a couple of reminders were sent by the respondent on 10.02.2013 and 27.02.2013.

  5. In response to the letters of the respondent, the petitioner replied and submitted as under:

    1. The instructions on verification of New Mobile subscriber has come into effect from 9th Nov 2012, we all are still in the initial phase of implementing it on ground, the challenges faced are enormous assuming the geography & population spread of our LSA.

    2.The observations made in your mail are a learning for us as well, because this kind of analysis was never done at our end. But taking the cognizance we have already issued explanation letters and notices to our Sales Channel partners for the observations raised.

    3.In the rural & up country markets, it has been observed that the subscribers are not very conversant with calling the call centre as per the new guidelines and they request the retailers/point of sale (POS) Executive to insert the SIM card in their mobile and make the call, while the actual verification is done by the subscriber him/herself, but the IMEI of handset of retailers/point of sales (POS) Executive is registered on the CDR.

    4. We are fully committed to follow the guidelines in letter & spirit, but will request for time & consideration from the Licenser. As there are many facets of the guideline which will take time to sink in, as amply evident from the observation raised.

    5. As to the details requested corresponding to MSISDNs in the attached list, the complete details are readily available with us, but in the light of points raised above will request for reconsideration on the observations made in earlier mails.

  6. These submissions of the petitioner were not accepted by the respondent and it reiterated the demand for CAFs on 27.02.2013. Vide e-mail dated 28.02.2013, the petitioner requested the respondent to reconsider its submissions and confirmed that the CAFs and supporting documents for all the MSISDNs were available with it and will be shared at the earliest. The explanation given by the petitioner was again rejected by the respondent on the same day and it issued a show cause notice asking the petitioner to explain why the 2151 CAFs in question should not be treated as missing and penalties...

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