India’s top law officer clears way for Rs 3,050 crore penalty on Airtel, Vodafone, Idea: Reports

India’s Attorney General (AG) – the government’s top law officer—has reportedly allowed the telecom department to levy of penalties on Bharti Airtel Ltd, Vodafone India and Idea Cellular for denying adequate connectivity to Reliance Jio Infocomm.

The AG has informed the telecom department that it was well within its powers to levy penalties these top telcos as recommended by the telecom regulator. “I have approved the recommended penalty,” attorney general Mukul Rohatgi was quoted as saying by Mint.

The AG’s opinion comes also within a month of Vodafone challenging the Trai’s recommendation at the Delhi High Court.

The DoT had reportedly sought AG Mukul Rohatgi’s opinion after the telecom regulator in October recommended penalties Rs 3,050 crore on the top three players – Rs 1,050 crore each on Airtel and Vodafone and Rs 950 crore on Idea. The Trai had then said that the act of denying adequate connectivity to Reliance Jio was in breach of the licence conditions and hence attracted a penalty of Rs 50 crore per operator per circle where they violated the conditions.


Denying adequate connectivity to Reliance Jio was viewed by the regulator as anti-competitive and anti-consumer and in non-compliance with licence conditions. These top telcos, however, have always maintained they have continuously released PoIs from their end and have alleged network unpreparedness at Jio’s end.

Also read: Idea Cellular to now raise Rs 500 crore to fund 4G expansion

Reports said that the issue will now be evaluated by the Department of Telecommunications (DoT). Bharti Airtel Chairman Sunil Mittal, on the sidelines of Airtel Payments Bank launch, said that the telco has taken its position very clearly that these penalties are completely unfounded and have been done in haste.

“We have written to Trai and DoT and what I understand is DoT has set up a committee to look into the penalty suggestion made by Trai and we all await the outcome of that, and based on the next set of actions by Trai or DoT, we will be able to act,” he said.

Mittal however said that he was unaware of the AG’s decision.

Airtel last month had moved TDSAT against Trai for permitting Reliance Jio to extend free services beyond the 90 days stipulated for promotional offers. It had said that the regulator is acting like a “mute spectator” to violations of tariff orders. TDSAT recently directed Trai to submit a response from Reliance Jio and also decide on the allegations against Reliance Jio in reasonable time.

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60 Comments on "India’s top law officer clears way for Rs 3,050 crore penalty on Airtel, Vodafone, Idea: Reports"


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January 16, 2017 9:49 pm 9:49 PM

What kind of company Jio is then? Charity?

Even if we assume that they are exploiting consumers, how is it ‘anti-national’ ?
It just means that the consumers are gullible. Isn’t it?
Because the consumers are not captive!

January 16, 2017 5:36 pm 5:36 PM

Who is going to get that penalty money, government or Jio?

January 15, 2017 10:55 pm 10:55 PM

Anyone using Mtnl in Mumbai and new Bombay??

S Gopal
January 17, 2017 4:12 pm 4:12 PM

I have in-roamed with MTNL in Mumbai. There are no issues with external coverage, there are though many buildings and their lifts where the network is non-existential. Call quality is ok, audible and conversations can continue without call drops occurring within the minute.
Their 3G network is better than the adjoining BSNL Maharashtra network, and in quite a many locations H+ speeds are available, but, data speeds are way lower than Vodafone and Airtel’s 3G speeds, You can be assured of an average of above. 2 Mbps.

January 16, 2017 10:45 am 10:45 AM

I have started using MTNL prepaid,,,, 3G speeds are ok,, 1 Mbps to 2. Voice network is not at par with private operators.

January 16, 2017 2:44 am 2:44 AM

Just don’t. MTNL is resisting merger with BSNL solely because of ego issues of management…..

January 16, 2017 7:23 am 7:23 AM

Oh … I heard their plans for 3G are VFM of 6-12 months ..?? … don’t know about their 3G coverage in Mumbai …since 2011 I don’t use it …… SPEED like 2-3 Mbps as per my info…. But they don’t have Stv like Jio with including voice +sms+data…. it must be there only data packs are real money saver

January 16, 2017 11:05 am 11:05 AM

MTNL has decent enough 3G coverage but many sites in Mumbai are UMTS and not HSPA+ from what I have seen. It’s cheap but I’ve never seen it’s quality is being worth it. There are better options in Mumbai such as Aircel, for example.