The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) (set up under TRAI Act of 1997) has come into being as a consequence of opening up of the telecommunication sector to the private operators.
TRAI shall have, in addition to its chairman, at least two and at the most six members, all appointed by the Central Government.
• The chairman will be a person who has been a judge of the Supreme Court or Chief Justice of a High Court.
• The members should have special knowledge of, or professional experience in telecom, industry, finance, accountancy, law management and consumer affairs.
• Only those senior or retired Government officers can be appointed as members who have served for at least three years as secretary/additional secretary to Union or State Governments.
• The Chairman holds the post for five years, but members’ term is for five years or sixty-five years of age, whichever comes earlier. The serving government employees have to take retirement before joining as members.
The powers of the TRAI have been considerably diluted by the T (Amendment) Ordinance. 2000. Now Regulation of telecom services is to be done by TRAI and newly set up Telecom Disputes Settlement Apell Tribunal (TDSAT). They will also adjudicate disputes dispose of appeals. protect interests of service providers and consumers to promote and ensure orderly growth of the telecom sector.
The composition of TRAI is also changed to chairman and not more two whole time members and not more than two part-time members to appoint by the Government. The TDSAT has been given the mandate adjudicate disputes
(i) between a licensor and a licensee;
(ii) between two or more service providers;
(iii) between a service provider and a group of consumers.
Any person may approach TDSAT in addition to Central or some or local authority. The chairperson and members of this tribunal are to appointed by the Government of India in consultation with the Chief Justice of India.
Initially the TRAI had to bear with interference and nagging Department of Telecommunication of Government of India which also ha to be an interested party being administrative department for government owned telecom service provides. Now with the Amendment 2000 its and jurisdiction has been considerably diluted. One wonders how efficiently the regulator remains in future.
The TRAI is always at logger-heads with the bosses of Union Telcom Ministry which always is busy working out a strategy to by-pass regulator. The year 2009 has been abuzz with the biggest fraud mi. exchequer-the 2-G spectrum allotment scam. As per latest reports from Comptroller and Auditor General of India. This scam seems to have cost the exchequer of Rs. 1,77,000 crores.
Powers and Functions of TRAI
The Powers and functions of TRAI are mainly on:
• to recommend need and timing of introduction of new service providers and terms and conditions of license to a service provider
• to ensure technical compatibility and inter-connect between different service providers and regulate their revenue sharing arrangements
• to ensure compliance with terms of license and revaluation of the same for non-compliance
• to lay down and ensure time period for providing long-distance and local distance circuits
• to• facilitate competition and promote efficiency in operations to promote growth of telecom services;
• to protect consumers’ interest monitor quality of senrices inspect equipment used in networks and make
recommendation about such equipment;
• to maintain register of interconnect agreements and keep it open for inspection and to settle disputes among the
service providers in this• respect;
• to give advice to the Government on any matter related to the telecom industry. levy fees and charges for services and, ensure that universal service obligations are complied with; and
• to perform any such other administration and financial function may be entrusted to it by the Central Government.