Convergence Bill- Offences and Penalties
naavi.org/CCB-note 3

The consequences of violations of various provisions of the proposed Communication Convergence Bill have been provided under Chapter X and Chapter XV of the Bill. The offences listed cover breach of licensing terms to protection of  infrastructure, obscene or antinational  etc. The financial penalties are so stiff that one single offence can effectively finish off an offending Company forever. Some of the offences are listed here.

1. Breach of Licencing terms by a licensee could attract a penalty of upto Rs 50 crores

2. Damage to Cable or any Network infrastructure facility by any person may attract a penalty to the extent of the damage if the damage is not willful. In case of willful damage, the penalty can be imposed upto Rs 5 crores even if the actual damage is for a lesser amount. The actual loss so collected will be payable to the Network licensee who has suffered the loss. The assessment  for the purpose would be done by the adjudicating officer. 

3. Using an unlicensed network facility and transmitting or distributing  Communication may attract a penalty of upto Rs 10 crores.

4. Any person receiving content for transmission or accepts delivery of any content from an unlicensed operator may be liable for penalty upto Rs 10 crores.

5. Non Registration of agreements with the Regulator could be punished with a penalty of Rs 10 lakhs while non-compliance of directions from the Regulator could attract a penalty as high as Rs 10 crores and Rs 2 lakh per day of the violation continues.

In addition to the above offences where the violator may be required to pay a compensation the following offences will attract further punishments as under.

1.Any person without a license owns or provides any Network infrastructure facility, provides any communication service or knowingly assists in the process in any manner including

a) Collection of Subscription for his Principal
b) Issuing Advertisements for such service
c) Dealing or Distribution of equipment for decoding programmes 

may be punished with imprisonment of upto 5 years in the first instance and 10 years in the subsequent instance besides a fine that may extend to Rs 5 or 10 Crores respectively.

2) Any person who without the permission of the service provider and with intent to defraud diverts any signal, or decodes any content may be punished with a fine of upto Rs 10 crores and imprisonment of upto 5 years.

3) Any person who knowingly benefits  from or assists in such unauthorized diversion or tampering with communication service may also be punished with an imprisonment of upto 2 years and a fine of upto Rs 2 crores.

4) Unauthorised usage of a Wireless equipment  or a Radio frequency may be punished with imprisonment of upto 3 years and a fine of upto Rs 2 crores.

5) Any person who sends offensive, or abusive or indecent or threatening 
communication for causing annoyance, inconvenience, or anxiety to another may be punished with imprisonment of upto 3 years and fine of upto RS 2 crores.

A cursory glance of the provisions indicates that the law has been framed rather aggressively to protect the licensees and their facilities from being tampered with and misused by criminals. To that extent it is a welcome measure. However a thought may be spared to think whether the laws place too much of power in the hands of officials and police which can be misused for harassing honest Citizens who may appear to have strayed into  usage of facilities which may turn out to be unlawful.

February 9, 2001
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