Trai may shortly propose setting up of an ombudsman: Report

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The Indian telecom regulator may soon reach out to the telecom department (DoT) for setting up of an ombudsman to resolve consumer complaints for the telecom sector, Economic Times reported. The latest move follows the Trai's recent proposal that sought penal powers to protect the rights of subscribers. The regulator has been trying to put in place mechanisms to sort out consumer grievances, following a setback in the call drops compensation case. The Supreme Court had earlier scrapped Trai's directive to telcos to compensate users for call drops.

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Trai Chairman RS Sharma recently told the publication that consumers currently have very few options to get their grievances over quality of services addressed.

"The consumer can't come to the Trai as our order has been struck down, can't go to the Department of Telecom because this is not the remit of the DoT, and can’t go to consumer court where will the person go. In such a case, the subscriber will be forced to again go back to the telecom service provider (TSP). "TSP is the aggressor, how can a consumer complain to the aggressor?" Sharma said.

Banking and insurance sectors already have ombudsmen in the country. The ombudsman is an independent body to which consumers can take their complaints. The body carries powers to mediate settlements between consumers and their service providers and can act as a one stop solution to their woes as its recommendations are binding on all players.

Trai had reached out to the telecom department a number of times since 2004, requesting the latter to set up an ombudsman, a speedy dispute resolution mechanism for consumers.

In 2004, the then Trai Chairman Pradeep Baijal had written to then telecom secretary Nripendra Misra asking for an independent agency to look after consumer complaints in the telecommunication sector. In 2006, the then Trai Chairman Nripendra Misra too followed up with the telecom department for the same request.

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