The Indian Telecom sector is passing through a dynamic transitional phase since the early 1990.  What was earlier an exclusive state monopoly has been getting transformed into a fiercely competitive market where the state undertakings are wooing customers with the same zeal as the private service providers. The New Telecom Policy of 1994 was a major initiative to open the door and invite the private players to develop the telecom sector.  This process was   given a further  boost by the telecom policy announced in 1999. The major policy reforms initiated since 1999 have resulted in the fastest ever growth of the telecom sector.  

 The variety of telecom services like electronic mail, voice mail, data services, audio text services, radio paging and cellular mobile telephone services which  are being offered now to the users are amazingly vast. This has been possible because of opening up of all the telecom services for the private sector without any restriction on number of operators except for the cellular mobile phone segment due to frequency constraints. Most of services are being provided by the private operators – Indian as well as foreign with Indian collaborations. Due to tremendous growth in the services it was considered essential to regulate the telecommunication services by a statutory body which should be fully empowered to control the services, in the best interest of the country as well as the service providers. To create such a body with all the statutory powers the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India Act was passed in 1997. This body, known as Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI), was originally invested with certain quasi-judicial authority to adjudicate and settle disputes also.

             The Telecom Regulatory Authority  of India Act, 1997 was amended  by the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Amendment) Act, 2000.  The amendments were brought about to remove certain difficulties that had arisen in implementation of the Act.  The  desired objectives  of bringing about functional clarity, strengthening the regulatory framework and the disputes settlement mechanism were attained by bringing about a clear distinction between the recommendatory and regulatory functions of  Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) by making it mandatory for Government to seek recommendations of TRAI in respect of specified matters and by the setting up of a separate dispute settlement mechanism etc.

            By the Amendment Act  an Appellate Tribunal known as the “Telecom Disputes Settlement & Appellate Tribunal” has been set up under Section 14 of the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India Act, 1997 by TRAI (Amendment) Act, 2000 (hereinafter called the “Act”) to  adjudicate disputes and dispose of appeals with a view  to protect the interests of service providers and consumers of the telecom sector and  to promote and ensure orderly growth of the telecom sector. 

            The functions of the appellate tribunal are to adjudicate any dispute  between a licensor and licensee, between 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 TRAI,  the appellate tribunal consists of  Chairperson and two Members. 

  The Appellate Tribunal came into existence on 29th May, 2000 and started hearing cases from  January 2001.  Hon’ble Mr. Justice Suhas C. Sen, former Judge of Supreme Court of India, was appointed as its first Chairperson and succeeded by Hon'ble Mr. Justice D.P. Wadhwa., Hon'ble Mr.Justice N. Santosh Hegde, Mr. Justice Arun Kumar. and Mr. Justice S.B.Sinha  The Tribunal is presently headed by Hon’ble Mr. Justice Aftab Alam, a former Judge of the Supreme Court, Chairperson, .

            The Registry of the Appellate Tribunal is located on the 4th  Floor of Hotel Samrat, Chanakyapuri, Kautilya Marg,  New Delhi which remains open on all working days except Saturdays,  Sundays,  and Central Government holidays.  For any enquiry from the Registry of the Appellate Tribunal, one can contact on telephone Nos. 011-26876882 011-24103873/5171, 011-24102563 and Fax Nos. 011-24105171, 011-24122218.  The   timings  for filing of cases is  from 10.00 AM to 5.00 PM.

 

 


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