Continuing our discussion on the Draft Indian Telecom bill, let us discuss the rovisions regarding civil penalties under the Act.
Under Section 38, the Central Government may prescribe civil liabilities, including compensation payable by any person causing damage to telecommunication network or
telecommunication infrastructure, to the licensee or registered entity, as the case may
be, and the applicable penalties.
This section is the penalty that may be payable by a member of public to the licensee for causing damage. One example would be when the cable network set up by a licensee is damaged either wilfully or by negligence by individuals or civic authorities like the road authorities, corporation authorities, electricity boards etc.
Otherwise the compensation if any payable to public by any service provider is to be covered under Section 33 for Spamming and Do Not Disturb violations. It appears that at present compensation payable to users for spamming etc or any damage caused to the subscribers say by radiation etc., is not fully addressed. It is left to be covered by other laws like IPC and perhaps by the upcoming amended ITA 2000 or data protection act.
It may be essential that the Government retains the ability to provide compensation to users by adding in Section 38 or under Section 33 so that instead of invoking compensation under ITA 2000 through an Adjudicator remedy can be in-built into this Act itself for any contravention.
The main part of the Act covers administration of the telecom industry and hence it addresses several issues of licensing formalities and associated penalties for breach of licensing conditions.
Penalties for breach of terms and conditions of a license are prescribed from “Written warning” in the case of non severe breaches to Rs 5 crore in respect of severe breaches.
The Act recommends use of ADR and intends to establish a suitable mechanism for mediation or arbitration or other forms of ADR.
The Central Government may also prescribe the procedure, the appropriate authority, the
appellate authority, and terms and conditions, including time period for resolution of
disputes, arising under the provisions of this chapter.
At present the TDSAT is the dispute resolution authority and it may continue with resolution before TDSAT being attempted through the ADR process.
…to be continued