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Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Jurisdiction of TDSAT -Challenge to the Regulations framed under sec.36 of Telecom Regulatory Authority of India Act for rapid developement of Telecommunication - Apex court held that TDSAT has no jurisdiction - view taken by TDSAT and the Delhi High Court does not represent correct law. - aggrieved person shall be free to challenge the validity of the regulations framed under Section 36 of the Act by filing appropriate petition before the High Court. = Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited ... Appellant versus Telecom Regulatory Authority of India and others ... Respondents = published in http://judis.nic.in/supremecourt/imgst.aspx?filename=41056

Jurisdiction of TDSAT -Challenge to the Regulations framed under sec.36 of Telecom Regulatory Authority of India Act for rapid developement of Telecommunication - Apex court held that TDSAT has no jurisdiction - view taken by TDSAT and  the Delhi High Court does not represent correct law. - aggrieved person shall be free to challenge  the  validity of the regulations framed under Section 36 of the Act by filing  appropriate petition before the High Court. =

“Whether in exercise of the power vested in  it  under  Section
           14(b) of the  Act,  TDSAT  has  the  jurisdiction  to  entertain
           challenge to the  regulations  framed  by  the  Authority  under
           Section 36 of the Act.  =

 1. Whether in the event of any inconsistency between the terms
                 and conditions of the licenses issued under  Section  4  of
                 the Indian Telegraph Act, 1885 and the  provisions  of  the
                 Telecom Regulatory Authority of India Act, 1997 (for short,
                 ‘the Act’), the provisions of the Act would prevail in view
                 of the purpose and  object  for  which  the  Act  has  been
                 passed,   i.e.,   for   ensuring   rapid   development   of
                 telecommunications in the country  incorporating  the  most
                 modern technology and, at the  same  time,  protecting  the
                 interests of the consumers and the service providers?
  2.  Whether  Authority  has  powers  to  fix  the  terms   and
                 conditions of inter connectivity between service providers,
                 in respect of all the licenses, irrespective  of  the  fact
                 whether  licenses  issued  before  or  after  24.1.2000   -
                 especially in view  of  the  non-obstante  clause  in  sub-
                 section (1) of Section 11 and sub-clause (ii) of Clause (b)
                 of sub-section (l) of Section 11 of  the  TRAI  (Amendment)
                 Act of 2000?
3. Whether Authority has no power to fix terms and  conditions
                 of interconnectivity between service providers  in  respect
                 of licenses issued after  24.01.2000  including  terms  and
                 conditions of interconnection  agreements  -  in  view  of,
                 inter-alia, the scheme laid down in the provisos to Section
                 11(1) of the TRAI Act, 1997 as amended on 24.01.2000 and if
                 it  does  not  have  any  such  power  what  would  be  the
                 harmonious construction of the amended clause  11(1)(b)(ii)
                 and the  new  scheme  more  specifically  embodied  in  the
                 provisos?
   4. Whether under the amended provisions of the TRAI Act,  1997
                 introduced w.e.f 24.01.2000 - the  harmonious  construction
                 of Section 11(1)(b)(ii) and the scheme of the  provisos  to
                 Section 11(1) would allow the Authority to have  the  power
                 to fix the terms and conditions of  interconnectivity  with
                 respect to licenses issued before 24.1.2000,  only  to  the
                 extent  the  licensor  (Govt.   of   India)   accepts   the
                 recommendations of the Authority for incorporation  in  the
                 new licenses, so as to achieve level playing field  between
                 the service providers granted licenses before and after the
                 amendment of the TRAI A
 5. Whether the appeals are maintainable in the present form?
=
a preliminary issue  relating  to  jurisdiction  of  the
Telecom  Disputes  Settlement  Appellate  Tribunal  (TDSAT)   to   entertain
challenge to the regulations framed by the Authority may be  decided  before
the  questions  framed  vide  order  dated  6.2.2007  are   taken   up   for
consideration. =

 In the result, the question framed by the Court  is  answered  in  the
following terms:
       In exercise of the power vested in it  under  Section  14(b)  of  the
      Act, TDSAT does not have the jurisdiction to entertain  the  challenge
      to the regulations framed by the Authority under  Section  36  of  the
      Act.

65.   As a corollary, we hold that the contrary view taken by TDSAT and  the
Delhi High Court does not represent correct law.  At the same time, we  make
it clear that the aggrieved person shall be free to challenge  the  validity
of the regulations framed under Section 36 of the Act by filing  appropriate
petition before the High Court.
66.   The cases may now be listed before an appropriate Bench  for  deciding
the questions framed vide  order  dated  6.2.2007  passed  in  Civil  Appeal
No.3298/2005 and some of the connected matters.


                                                 REPORTABLE
                        IN THE SUPREME COURT OF INDIA
                        CIVIL APPELLATE JURISDICTION
                        CIVIL APPEAL NO. 5253 OF 2010
Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited                       ... Appellant
                                   versus
Telecom Regulatory Authority of India and others      ... Respondents
                                    With
                      Civil Appeal Nos. 951-952 of 2005
                        Civil Appeal No. 3298 of 2005
                        Civil Appeal No. 3299 of 2005
                        Civil Appeal No. 4529 of 2005
                     Civil Appeal Nos. 5834-5836 of 2005
                        Civil Appeal No. 5837 of 2005
                        Civil Appeal No. 6049 of 2005
                        Civil Appeal No. 802 of 2006
                        Civil Appeal No. 2731 of 2006
                        Civil Appeal No. 2794 of 2006
                        Civil Appeal No. 3504 of 2006
                     Civil Appeal Nos. 4965-4966 of 2007
                        Civil Appeal No. 177 of 2008
                      Civil Appeal Nos. 598-599 of 2008
                        Civil Appeal No. 5184 of 2010
                        Civil Appeal No. 5873 of 2010
                        Civil Appeal No. 6068 of 2010
                        Civil Appeal No. 6255 of 2010
                       Civil Appeal No. D28298 of 2010
                           T.C. (C) No. 39 of 2010
                      Civil Appeal Nos. 271-281 of 2011

                                  JUDGMENT
G.S. SINGHVI, J.
1.    By an order dated 6.2.2007 passed in Civil Appeal No. 3298 of  2005  –
Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Authority) v.  Bharat  Sanchar  Nigam
Limited (BSNL) and connected matters, a two Judge Bench made a reference  to
the larger Bench for determination of the  following  substantial  questions
of law of public importance:
              1. Whether in the event of any inconsistency between the terms
                 and conditions of the licenses issued under  Section  4  of
                 the Indian Telegraph Act, 1885 and the  provisions  of  the
                 Telecom Regulatory Authority of India Act, 1997 (for short,
                 ‘the Act’), the provisions of the Act would prevail in view
                 of the purpose and  object  for  which  the  Act  has  been
                 passed,   i.e.,   for   ensuring   rapid   development   of
                 telecommunications in the country  incorporating  the  most
                 modern technology and, at the  same  time,  protecting  the
                 interests of the consumers and the service providers?
              2.  Whether  Authority  has  powers  to  fix  the  terms   and
                 conditions of inter connectivity between service providers,
                 in respect of all the licenses, irrespective  of  the  fact
                 whether  licenses  issued  before  or  after  24.1.2000   -
                 especially in view  of  the  non-obstante  clause  in  sub-
                 section (1) of Section 11 and sub-clause (ii) of Clause (b)
                 of sub-section (l) of Section 11 of  the  TRAI  (Amendment)
                 Act of 2000?
              3. Whether Authority has no power to fix terms and  conditions
                 of interconnectivity between service providers  in  respect
                 of licenses issued after  24.01.2000  including  terms  and
                 conditions of interconnection  agreements  -  in  view  of,
                 inter-alia, the scheme laid down in the provisos to Section
                 11(1) of the TRAI Act, 1997 as amended on 24.01.2000 and if
                 it  does  not  have  any  such  power  what  would  be  the
                 harmonious construction of the amended clause  11(1)(b)(ii)
                 and the  new  scheme  more  specifically  embodied  in  the
                 provisos?
              4. Whether under the amended provisions of the TRAI Act,  1997
                 introduced w.e.f 24.01.2000 - the  harmonious  construction
                 of Section 11(1)(b)(ii) and the scheme of the  provisos  to
                 Section 11(1) would allow the Authority to have  the  power
                 to fix the terms and conditions of  interconnectivity  with
                 respect to licenses issued before 24.1.2000,  only  to  the
                 extent  the  licensor  (Govt.   of   India)   accepts   the
                 recommendations of the Authority for incorporation  in  the
                 new licenses, so as to achieve level playing field  between
                 the service providers granted licenses before and after the
                 amendment of the TRAI Act?
              5. Whether the appeals are maintainable in the present form?

2.    The larger Bench heard the arguments on  various  dates  but  released
the cases vide order dated 19.10.2011. Thereafter, by mistake  the  Registry
listed all the matters before a  two  Judge  Bench.  During  the  course  of
hearing, Shri A.S. Chandhiok, learned senior  advocate  appearing  for  BSNL
invited the Court’s attention to orders dated 6.2.2007  and  21.10.2010  and
pointed out  that  the  cases  were  earlier  heard  by  the  larger  Bench.
Thereupon, the two Judge Bench directed that the cases be posted before  the
larger Bench.
3.    When the cases were listed before this Bench, learned counsel for  the
parties agreed that
a preliminary issue  relating  to  jurisdiction  of  the
Telecom  Disputes  Settlement  Appellate  Tribunal  (TDSAT)   to   entertain
challenge to the regulations framed by the Authority may be  decided  before
the  questions  framed  vide  order  dated  6.2.2007  are   taken   up   for
consideration.  
Thereupon, the Court decided to hear the  arguments  on  the
following question:

            “Whether in exercise of the power vested in  it  under  Section
           14(b) of the  Act,  TDSAT  has  the  jurisdiction  to  entertain
           challenge to the  regulations  framed  by  the  Authority  under
           Section 36 of the Act.

4.    For better appreciation of the arguments advanced by  learned  counsel
for the parties, we may notice the facts  borne  out  from  the  records  of
different appeals.
Civil Appeal Nos. 5253, 5184, 5873, 6068, 6255 of 2010 and Civil Appeal  No.
D28298 of 2010


5.1   The delay  in  filing  and  re-filing  C.A.  No.  D28298  of  2010  is
condoned.
5.2   These appeals   have  been  filed  by  Bharat  Sanchar  Nigam  Limited
(BSNL), Cellular Operators  Association  of  India  (COAI),  Association  of
Unified Telecom Service  Providers of India (AUSPI),  the  Authority,   M/s.
Sistema Shyam TeleServices   Limited    and    Mahanagar   Telephone   Nigam
Limited (MTNL), respectively, against order dated 28.5.2010 passed by  TDSAT
whereby  the  appeal  preferred  by  BSNL  against   the   Telecommunication
Interconnection (Port Charges) Amendment Regulation (1 of 2007) was  allowed
and the Authority was directed to give fresh look  at  the  regulations  and
BSNL was directed not to claim any  amount  from  any  operator  during  the
interregnum, i.e., from the date of coming into  force  of  the  regulations
and the date of the order.
5.3   A perusal of the record shows that port charges came to be  prescribed
in Schedule 3 of the Telecommunication Interconnection (Charges and  Revenue
Sharing) Regulations, 1999, which came into force on 28.5.1999.   By  virtue
of  Clause  8,  the  regulations  were  given  overriding  effect  qua   the
interconnection agreements. MTNL challenged the 1999 regulations before  the
Delhi High Court in Civil Writ Petition No. 6543/1999, which was allowed  by
the Division Bench of the High Court vide order  dated  17.1.2000  [MTNL  v.
TRAI, AIR 2000 (Delhi) 208] and it was  held  that  the  Regulations  framed
under  Section  36  of  the  Act  could  not  be  given  overriding  effect.
Thereafter,  the  Authority  framed  the  Telecommunication  Interconnection
(Port  Charges)  Amendment  Regulations  (6/2001).  The  port  charges  were
specified  in  the  schedule  to  the  amended  regulations.   The   amended
regulations were challenged in Appeal Nos.11/2002 and  31/2003,  which  were
allowed by TDSAT vide orders dated 27.4.2005 and 3.5.2005 respectively.
5.4   In view of  the  aforesaid  orders  of  TDSAT,  the  Authority  sought
response of various service providers for review of port  charges.  In  that
process, BSNL raised objection to the jurisdiction of the Authority to  vary
the terms and conditions of interconnection agreements  or  the  contractual
rates. On 2.2.2007, the Authority issued  Telecommunication  Interconnection
(Port Charges) Amendment Regulation (1 of 2007) reducing  the  port  charges
required to be paid by private telecom operators to BSNL  by  about  23-29%.
BSNL challenged Notification dated 2.2.2007 in  Appeal  No.  4/2007.  By  an
order  dated  28.5.2010,  TDSAT  allowed  the  appeal  of  BSNL  and  issued
directions to which reference has been made hereinabove.

Civil Appeal Nos. 951-952/2005

6.1   Civil Appeal No. 951/2005 has been  filed  by  the  Authority  against
order dated 21.4.2004 by which TDSAT allowed Appeal No.2/2004 filed by  BSNL
questioning direction dated 31.12.2003 issued under  Section  13  read  with
Section 11(1)(b) of the Act. Civil Appeal No. 952/2005  has  been  filed  by
the Authority  against  order  dated  10.8.2004  by  which  TDSAT  dismissed
Petition No.2/2004 for review of order dated 21.4.2004.
6.2   On  receiving  information  that  some  operators  were  disconnecting
Points  of  Interconnection  (PoI)  for  the  reason  of  non   payment   of
Interconnection Usage Charges and other such reasons, the  Authority  issued
direction dated 31.12.2003 under  Section  13  read  with  Section  11(1)(b)
conveying to all service  providers  that  disconnection  of  PoIs  was  not
desirable because the subscribers would be inconvenienced and  all  disputes
should be resolved through mutual negotiations. It was  also  provided  that
if the dispute could not be resolved, then 10 days’ notice of  disconnection
should be given to the erring party with a copy to  the  Authority.  In  the
event of non-intervention  by  the  Authority,  the  aggrieved  party  could
disconnect the PoI or  approach  the  Authority  for  determination  of  the
matter.
6.3   BSNL filed Appeal No.2/2004 for striking down the aforesaid  direction
on the ground that only TDSAT was vested with  the  jurisdiction  to  decide
the disputes and the Authority had no  jurisdiction  in  the  matter.  TDSAT
allowed  the  appeal  and  held  that  the  Authority  did  not   have   the
jurisdiction to entertain  dispute  between  the  service  providers.  TDSAT
noted that the words “dispute” and “determination” have  been  used  in  the
direction issued by the Authority, referred to the judgment  of  this  Court
in Cellular Operators Association of India v. Union of India  (2003)  3  SCC
186  and  held  that  the  jurisdiction  of  TDSAT  is  quite  wide  and  is
circumscribed only by the three instances, i.e., disputes  before  the  MRTP
Commission, Consumer Forums and those under  Section  7B  of  the  Telegraph
Act.
6.4   The Authority filed Review Petition No. 2/2004 and argued  that  while
the  Authority  can  be  faulted  for  the  use  of  words   “dispute”   and
“determination”, its power to intervene cannot be questioned.  Another  plea
taken by the Authority was that the regulations framed under Section 36  are
in the nature of subordinate legislation  and  validity  thereof  cannot  be
questioned before TDSAT. The review petition was  dismissed  by  TDSAT  vide
order dated 10.8.2004 reiterating that  it  had  jurisdiction  to  entertain
dispute relating to validity of regulations.

Civil Appeal Nos. 3298 and 4529 of 2005

7.1   These appeals are directed against order  dated  27.4.2005  passed  by
TDSAT in Appeal Nos. 11 and 12 of 2002 filed by BSNL and MTNL  respectively,
challenging Clause 3.1 of the Telecommunication  Interconnection  (Reference
Interconnect Offer) Regulation, 2002 (2 of 2002).
7.2   In exercise of its powers under Section 36 read with Section  11(1)(c)
and (d) of the unamended Act, the Authority prescribed revenue  sharing  for
service providers under the Calling Party Pays  regime  on  17.9.1999.  This
was challenged before the Delhi High Court. In its judgement [MTNL  v.  TRAI
(supra)], the High Court observed that the Authority has no power to  change
or vary rights of parties under contracts or licenses.
7.3   After the  judgment  of  the  High  Court,  the  Act  was  amended  by
Ordinance dated 24.1.2000 and Section 11(1)(b)(ii) was  inserted  to  enable
the Authority to fix the terms and conditions of  interconnectivity  between
the service providers.
7.4   In exercise of the power vested in  it  under  Section  36  read  with
Section 11(1)(b)(ii),  (iii)  and  (iv),  the  Authority   framed  the  2002
Regulations. Under Clause 3.1 of these regulations,  the  service  providers
with significant market share  were  required  to  publish  their  Reference
Interconnect Offer (RIO) within 90 days of  the  issue  of  the  Regulations
with prior approval of the Authority. The  2002  Regulations  stipulate  the
broad framework, structure and provisions on which the service  provider  is
to make an offer of  interconnection  with  other  service  providers.  BSNL
submitted the proposed RIO on 12.7.2002. MTNL also  submitted  proposed  RIO
sometime in 2002. The RIOs of BSNL  and  MTNL  were  approved  with  certain
changes effected vide identically worded letters dated 9.10.2002.
7.5   BSNL and MTNL filed Appeal Nos. 11  and  12/2002  challenging  letters
dated 9.10.2002 issued by the Authority. It was contended  inter  alia  that
the Authority did not have the  power  to  frame  such  a  regulation.  They
argued that the changes suggested in the RIO were non transparent and  under
the garb of the regulations, the Authority cannot be conferred power to  fix
the terms and conditions of interconnectivity which BSNL and MTNL can  offer
to other service providers. Clause 3.1 was  challenged  insofar  as  it  had
been interpreted to take away the  statutory  right  to  appeal  as  granted
under the Act.
7.6   TDSAT disposed of both the appeals vide order dated  27.4.2005.  TDSAT
extensively referred to the orders passed in Review  Petition  No.2/2004  in
Appeal No.2/2004 (BSNL v. TRAI) and  Appeal  No.3/2005  as  also  the  order
passed by the Delhi High Court wherein it was held that TDSAT  is  empowered
to hear appeals involving challenge  to  the  validity  of  the  regulations
framed under Section 36. TDSAT then held that even after  amendment  of  the
Act, the Authority does not have the power to amend or  override  the  terms
and conditions of  the  interconnect  agreements  executed  by  the  service
providers.

Civil Appeal Nos. 3299, 6049 of 2005 and 802 of 2006

8.1   These appeals have been filed against order dated  3.5.2005  of  TDSAT
whereby it allowed Appeal No.31/2003 and partly allowed Petition  No.20/2004
and quashed direction  dated  22.7.2003  issued  by  the  Authority  on  the
premise that it  did  not  have  the  power  to  override  and  make  direct
interconnectivity mandatory.
8.2    Direct  connectivity  between   different   service   providers   was
introduced in light of NTP 1999  and  the  same  was  provided  for  in  the
license agreements of existing licensees through an amendment  on  29.1.2001
as per DoT letter dated 9.8.2000 which stated that direct  connectivity  was
permitted for the purpose of terminating traffic  on  the  basis  of  mutual
agreements. In the meanwhile, on  29.9.2000  BSNL  was  granted  license  to
provide cellular mobile services  and  it  commenced  its  Cellone  Cellular
Services in October 2002.
8.3   The Act was amended vide Ordinance  dated  24.1.2000  to  include  the
power to fix the terms and conditions of interconnectivity  between  service
providers (Section 11(1)(b)(ii) of the amended Act).
8.4   The  Authority  issued  Telecommunication  Interconnection  (Reference
Interconnect Offer) Regulation, 2002 on 12.7.2002 and mooted the idea of  an
Interconnect  Gateway  Switch.  On  15.5.2003,  the   Authority   issued   a
consultation paper stating  that  if  one  of  the  parties  demands  direct
connectivity  it  needs  to  be  made  mandatory  through  regulations.   On
30.6.2003, the Authority called upon stakeholders to discuss  the  issue  of
direct connectivity.   Thereafter,  the  Authority  issued  direction  dated
22.7.2003 under Section 13 of the Act to  all  service  providers  directing
that direct connectivity be made between service providers at  the  earliest
and not later than three months from the issue of the  direction  so  as  to
promote network efficiency and consumer interest.
8.5   BSNL filed Appeal No. 31/2003 challenging  direction  dated  22.7.2003
on the ground that the same was contrary to the terms and conditions of  the
license agreements of basic and cellular operators.
8.6.  The  Authority  issued  IUC  Regulations  dated  29.10.2003  mandating
direct  connectivity  between  service  providers.  As  per  clause  (b)  of
Schedule II, charges could be levied through mutual  negotiations  but  they
were to be lower than Rs.0.20. BSNL issued Circular dated 28.1.2004  levying
charge of Rs.0.4 per minute for a  call  from  cellular  mobile  network  to
another cellular network transited by BSNL.  This  charge  included  Rs.0.30
towards call termination and Rs.0.19 towards transit.
8.7   The Authority released Consultation  Paper  on  Interconnect  Exchange
cum Inter-Carrier Billing Clearance House for  Multi-Operator  Multi-Service
Scenario on 13.4.2004 mooting Interconnect Exchange  as  an  alternative  to
direct connectivity.
8.8   COAI filed Petition No.  20/2004  seeking  a  direction  against  BSNL
CellOne to directly connect to the Cellular Service Providers and to  strike
down the BSNL Circular requiring payment of Rs 0.19  transit  charges  which
BSNL Basic Services Division was demanding and collecting.
8.9     TDSAT  allowed  Appeal  No.31/2003  and  partly   allowed   petition
No.20/2004 and quashed direction dated 22.7.2003  on  the  ground  that  the
Authority cannot issue direction resulting in modification  of  the  licence
issued after 2000 amendment. TDSAT held  that  fixation  of  the  terms  and
conditions of interconnectivity and ensuring effective interconnectivity  is
part of the legislative mandate of the Authority under Section  11(1)(b)(ii)
and (iii). TDSAT referred to its earlier order  dated  27.4.2005  passed  in
Appeal Nos. 11 and 12/2002 and held that the amendment of the Act  does  not
override the law laid down by the Delhi High Court in MTNL v. TRAI  (supra).
  TDSAT further held that  the  power  vested  in  the  Authority  could  be
exercised in harmony with the terms of interconnectivity of licenses  issued
after the 2000 amendment and the principles laid  down  in  the  High  Court
judgment. With regard to the claim of COAI, TDSAT held that though BSNL  was
justified in  collecting  Rs.0.19  transit  charges  from  Level  I  TAX  to
termination of calls in PSTN network or for providing  interconnectivity  to
networks of other service  providers,  it  was  not  justified  in  charging
transit charges to the extent of Rs.0.19 for transit  calls  from,  Level  I
TAX to Cellone’s Gateway MSC. TDSAT held  that  it  cannot  direct  BSNL  to
implement direct connectivity as the Authority did not  have  the  power  to
override license terms and conditions for making the same  mandatory  either
by direction under Section 13 or by regulation under Section 36.
Civil Appeal Nos.5834-5836 and 5837 of 2005
9.1   These appeals are directed against order  dated  27.4.2005  passed  by
TDSAT whereby it allowed Petition No. 9 of  2001  filed  by  Association  of
Basic Telecom  Operators  and  others  and  Petition  No.  3/2001  filed  by
Cellular Operators Association of  India,  dismissed  Petition  No.  12/2003
filed by private BSOs as withdrawn and dismissed Appeal No. 5/2002 filed  by
BSNL.
9.2   Access charges to be paid by the  Basic  Licensees  to  the  DoT  (now
BSNL) were provided for in tender document issued on 16.1.1995 at  the  rate
of Rs 0.64 per MCU for STD  calls  and  Rs  0.87  per  MCU  for  ISD  calls.
Clarification was issued on 27.5.1996 reducing the charges to  Rs  0.50  per
MCU for STD calls and Rs 0.70 per MCU for ISD calls.
9.3    In  1997-98  interconnect  agreements  were  signed   between   Basic
Operators and the then DoT providing for  payment  of  interconnect  charges
including port charges at a minimum of Rs 54,000/- per PCM  termination  per
annum for a period of 3 years and then actual/full  cost  based  rates,  and
access charges at Rs 0.50 per MCU for STD calls and Rs 0.70 per MCU for  ISD
calls. By 1.8.1999 all BSOs migrated to the revenue sharing  regime  instead
of the fixed license fee regime. Port charges in respect of Cellular  Mobile
Service Providers were prescribed by the DoT vide Circulars dated  27.9.1996
and 5.6.1998  which  extended  that  arrangement  for  computation  of  port
charges which was incorporated in  interconnection  agreements  signed  with
private BSOs to CMSPs.
9.4   The Authority issued Telecommunication  Interconnection  (Charges  and
Revenue Sharing) Regulation, 1999 (hereinafter ‘Interconnection  Regulations
1999’) vide notification dated 28.5.1999 by which the port charges  as  also
the access charges were reduced. Clause 8 of the Regulations  provided  that
the Regulations  would  have  an  over-riding  effect  on  the  interconnect
agreements entered into between the operators and  DoT/BSNL.  Consequent  to
the issuing of Interconnect Regulations 1999,  DoT  issued  circulars  dated
1.10.1999, 12.10.1999 and 25.10.1999 altering the post  charges  and  access
charges.  That clause was struck down by Delhi High Court in  MTNL  v.  TRAI
(supra).
9.5   After its creation on  1.10.2000,  BSNL  issued  communications  dated
28.4.2001 and 31.5.2001  requesting  an  increase  in  the  access  charges,
making the regime of payment dependent on actual work done by the  concerned
operator. The BSOs made a representation to the Authority objecting to  this
increase.
9.6    AUSPI  filed   Petition   No.   9/2001   before   TDSAT   challenging
communications dated 28.4.2001  and  31.5.2001.  Vide  interim  order  dated
10.7.2001, AUSPI was directed  to  continue  paying  the  admitted  amounts.
AUSPI  paid  the  port  charges  and  access  charges   under   Interconnect
Regulations, 1999 and  hence  BSNL  issued  circulars  dated  2.11.2001  and
21.11.2001 for recovery of the  amounts  calculated  on  the  basis  of  the
interconnect agreements stating that  in  light  of  the  Delhi  High  Court
judgement,  letter  dated  12.10.1999  issued  by  DoT  on  the   basis   of
Interconnection Regulations 1999 had become  null  and  void.  As  per  this
circular, BSNL revised retrospectively w.e.f. 1.5.1999 port  charges  to  be
levied from CMSPs at rates prevailing prior to 1.5.1999.   Thereupon,  AUSPI
amended Petition No. 9/2001 and challenged circular  dated  2.11.2001  apart
from the applicable rates of port charges. COAI  separately  filed  Petition
No.3/2002 for quashing circular dated 2.11.2001.
9.7    During  the  pendency  of  those  petitions,  the  Authority   issued
Telecommunication Interconnection (Charges and Revenue Sharing)  Regulation,
2001 on 14.12.2001 which dealt only with access charges.  These  regulations
were challenged by BSNL in  Appeal  No.  5/2002.  the  Authority  thereafter
issued Telecommunication Interconnection  (Port  Charges)  Regulation,  2001
fixing rates of port  charges  w.e.f.  28.12.2001.  These  regulations  were
accepted and adopted by all the parties.
9.8   Private BSOs filed Petition No.  12/2003  challenging  the  applicable
rate of port charges for period till issuance  of  Port  Charges  Regulation
dated 28.12.2001.  By an order dated 27.4.2005, TDSAT allowed Petition  Nos.
9/2001 and 3/2002 and quashed circular dated  2.11.2001  by  observing  that
the demands raised therein are without basis.  It held  that  the  BSOs  and
CMSPs were liable to pay charges as per  the  DoT  letter  dated  12.10.1999
till the coming into effect  of  the  Authority  Port  Charges  Regulations,
2001.  TDSAT  dismissed  Petition  No.12/2003  filed  by  private  BSOs   as
withdrawn.  It also dismissed Appeal No.5/2002 filed by BSNL and upheld  the
validity of the Interconnection Regulations, 2001 on the  ground  that  they
had become necessary to bring about certainty in the access  charges  regime
and it could not be said that the Authority acted  unfairly  or  arbitrarily
to enrich private operators.

Civil Appeal Nos. 2731, 2794 and 3504 of 2006.

10.1        The Authority issued direction dated 22.7.2003 under Section  13
of the Act to all service providers directing that  direct  connectivity  be
made between service providers at the earliest  and  not  later  than  three
months from the issue of the direction so as to promote  network  efficiency
and consumer interest.
10.2        BSNL  filed  Appeal  No.  31/2003  challenging  direction  dated
22.7.2003 on the ground  that  the  same  was  contrary  to  the  terms  and
conditions of the license agreements of basic and cellular operators.
10.3        In October 2003, the Authority  issued  Telecom  Interconnection
Usages Charges Regulations (IUC Regulations) mandating  direct  connectivity
between service providers. As per clause (b) of Schedule II,  charges  could
be levied through mutual negotiations subject to  the  condition  that  they
shall not exceed Rs.0.20 per minute.  BSNL issued Circular  dated  28.1.2004
levying charge of Rs 0.4 per minute for a call from cellular mobile  network
to another cellular network transited by BSNL. This charge includes Rs  0.30
towards call termination and Rs 0.19 towards transit.
10.4        BSNL issued Circular  dated  2.7.2004  to  its  telecom  circles
informing them of its decision to permit direct connectivity with  the  BSNL
Cellular Network. Reliance Infocom was one of the  UASL  operators  who  had
sought such connectivity. NLD and ILD operators were permitted to  establish
direct connectivity with CellOne network vide BSNL Circular dated  4.8.2004.
Vide Circular dated 23.8.2004, Reliance was  given  direct  interconnect  as
NLDO/ILDO on the same terms and conditions as Bharti Televentures Ltd.
10.5        COAI filed Petition No.  20/2004  seeking  a  direction  against
BSNL CellOne to directly connect to the Cellular Service  Providers  and  to
strike down the BSNL Circular  requiring  payment  of  Rs  0.19  as  transit
charges which BSNL Basic Services Division was demanding and collecting.
10.6        Vide order dated 3.5.2005, TDSAT allowed Appeal No. 31/2003  and
quashed direction dated  22.7.2003  holding  that  the  direction  mandating
direct connectivity  resulted  in  modification  of  license  conditions  of
licenses issued after the 2000  amendment  and  as  such  this  was  not  in
accordance with the provision of the Act. TDSAT partly allowed Petition  No.
20/2004 and held that BSNL was not justified in charging transit charges  to
the extent of Rs 0.19 for transit calls  from,  Level  I  TAX  to  Cellone’s
Gateway MSC. Relief of refund of amounts already collected was not granted.
10.7        In compliance of TDSAT’s order,  the  Authority  issued  Telecom
Regulatory Authority of India (Transit  Charges  for  Bharat  Sanchar  Nigam
Limited’s CellOne Terminating Traffic) Regulation, 2005 (10 of  2005)  dated
8.6.2005 under Section 36 read with section  11(1)(b)(ii),  (iii)  and  (iv)
clarifying that no transit charges shall  be  levied  by  BSNL  on  cellular
operators for accessing CellOne subscribers wherever MSCs  of  both  CellOne
and private CMSPs are connected to the same BSNL switch.
10.8        Bharti Televentures Ltd. made representation dated 18.5.2005  to
BNL to extend the benefit of  Tribunal’s  order  dated  3.5.2005.   It  also
submitted  representation  dated  13.6.2005  to  the  Authority   to   amend
regulations dated 8.6.2005  extending  the  waiver  to  fixed  line  service
providers. Thereupon, fresh Addenda II was inserted  into  the  Interconnect
Agreement between Bharti and BSNL on 5.7.2005 which deals with the issue  of
direct connectivity and payment of transit charges.
10.9        BSNL extended benefit of the judgment  dated  3.5.2005  to  Tata
Teleservices Limited in May  2005  on  the  ground  that  it  was  similarly
situated as the cellular operators. However, in  October  2005  it  withdrew
the benefit and demanded that Tata pay transit charges at  Rs  0.19  on  the
ground that Tata could not avail of the benefit of the judgment as it was  a
UAS licensee and not a CMSP.
10.10 BSNL forwarded a  draft  Addenda  to  the  Interconnect  Agreement  to
Reliance Infocom Limited on 14.3.2005. The same was signed  by  the  parties
on 17.11.2005 for NLD services and on 6.1.2006 as  UASL  operator.  Reliance
filed  representation  before  the  Authority  dated  30.8.2005  to   extend
regulation date 8.6.2005 to UAS licensees also. This  request  was  declined
by the Authority on 6.9.2005. In light of decision dated  11.11.2005  passed
by TDSAT mandating level  playing  filed  and  reciprocity  between  service
providers and  the  subsequent  the  Authority  directive  dated  16.11.2005
applying this judgment to all service  providers  although  the  petitioners
had been only cellular  operators,  Reliance  filed  another  representation
dated 12.12.2005 but did not get any response from the Authority.
10.11 Bharti Televentures Limited filed Appeal No. 8/2005 seeking  extension
of the benefit of order dated 3.5.2005 and  also  for  modification  of  the
regulations and for extension of  the  benefit  to  similarly  situated  UAS
Licensees.
10.12 By an order dated 10.2.2006, TDSAT dismissed the appeal and held  that
the transit charges  would  be  determined  by  the  interconnect  agreement
voluntarily entered  into  between  Bharti  and  BSNL  post  judgment  dated
3.5.2005. However, TDSAT did not go into the issue of whether basic  service
providers can be construed as similarly situated to cellular operators.
10.13 Bharti Televentures Limited challenged the aforesaid order  in  Review
Application No. 1/2006, which was dismissed vide order dated 3.5.2006.
10.14 Tata Teleservices Limited filed  Petition  No.  132/2005  praying  for
extending the benefit of order dated 3.5.2005, setting aside the demands  of
BSNL for Rs 0.19 as transit charges and  modification  of  the  regulations.
That petition was dismissed by  TDSAT  vide  order  dated  3.5.2006  on  the
ground that similar appeal filed by Bharti  Televentures  Limited  had  been
dismissed.  Appeal No.7/2006 filed by  Reliance  Infocom  Limited  was  also
dismissed by TDSAT by relying upon the orders passed in the cases of  Bharti
Televentures Limited and Tata Teleservices Limited.
Civil Appeal Nos. 4965-66 of 2007, 177 and 598-599 of 2008
11.1        The Authority issued the 4th amendment to  the  IUC  Regulations
on 6.1.2005. Soon thereafter,  BSNL  issued  circular  dated  29.1.2005  for
implementation of the Regulations stating in Annexure 2 that  revenue  shall
be shared between BSNL and the private operator in the ratio  of  50:50  for
international roaming calls. COAI  filed  representations  dated  31.1.2005,
7.2.2005, 8.2.2005  and  14.2.2005  against  this  circular.  The  Authority
issued letter dated 31.1.2005 to BSNL inviting it to attend a discussion  on
the implementation of IUC Regulations with regard to  separate  trunk  group
for handing over roaming calls. In  light  of  this,  BSNL  issued  Circular
dated 1.2.2005 deferring the formation  on  trunk  group  to  14.2.2005  for
national roaming calls and to 7.2.2005 for international roaming calls.  The
matter was  deferred  further  to  14.2.2005  and  then  to  28.2.2005  vide
Circulars dated 8.2.2005 and 14.2.2005.
11.2        However, by some further correspondence,  the  Authority  sought
comments from all service providers on 11.3.2005 on the issues  of  levy  of
ADC  and  revenue  sharing  on  roaming  subscriber  traffic.  It  moved   a
consultation paper on 17.3.2005  to  address  the  issue  of  revenue  share
arrangement  between  terminating  network  and   visiting   network.   BSNL
submitted its comments on this paper on 10.5.2005.  In  the  meanwhile,  the
Authority issued 5th amendment to the IUC Regulations  on  11.4.2005  making
ADC applicable to national calls at Rs 0.30  per  minute  and  international
roaming calls at Rs 3.25 per minute. The amendment was implemented  by  BSNL
vide Circular dated 9.5.2005. The amendment as it related to application  of
ADC was challenged by COAI in Appeal  No.  7/2005  which  was  allowed  vide
order dated 21.9.2005.  Thereafter, BSNL withdrew  circular  dated  9.5.2005
vide circular dated 13.10.2005.
11.3         On  23.6.2006,  the  Authority  issued  6th  amendment  to  IUC
Regulations. BSNL issued Circular dated 28.2.2006 for implementation of  the
6th amendment and  provided  for  higher  termination  charges  for  roaming
calls.  Thereupon, COAI filed complaints before BSNL  and  also  before  the
Authority regarding  higher  termination  charges  for  roaming  calls.  The
Authority issued letter dated 20.4.2006 to BSNL along with complaints  filed
by COAI and M/s BPL. Complaint of Bharti  was  also  forwarded  vide  letter
dated 24.4.2006. Despite agreeing to discuss the  matter  with  the  private
operators, BSNL started raising bills as per the circular. COAI  and  others
made representations dated 24.5.2006 and  12.6.2006  against  thee  demands.
BSNL replied to the Authority’s letter vide letter dated  28.4.2006  stating
that the license agreements provide for revenue share and the  circular  was
strictly in accordance with the same.
11.4        Vide decision dated 11.9.2006, the Authority rejected the  claim
of BSNL for revenue sharing in respect of roaming calls  and  directed  BSNL
to charge Rs 0.30 per minute for termination of national  and  international
roaming calls as prescribed in IUC Regulations.
11.5        BSNL  filed  Appeal  No.  14/2006  challenging  the  Authority’s
decision dated 11.9.2006 on the ground of lack of jurisdiction.   COAI  also
filed Appeal No.16/2006 challenging the decision of  the  Authority  insofar
as it was made prospective.
11.6        During the pendency  of  the  appeals,  the  Authority  notified
Telecommunication Tariff (forty fourth amendment) Order, 2007  on  24.1.2007
fixing maximum permissible charges for national roaming calls.
11.7        After hearing the parties,  TDSAT  vide  order  dated  24.8.2007
dismissed Appeal Nos. 14 and 16 of 2006 and Petition  No.319/2006  and  held
that the decision taken by the Authority was legally correct and justified.
11.8        The Authority filed MA No.  121/2007  for  correction  of  order
dated 24.8.2007 for deletion of the words “admitted” from  para  6  line  12
and “and is recommendatory” from para  9  line  24.   MA  was  allowed  vide
impugned order dated 12.9.2007 and the words “and  is  recommendatory”  were
deleted. TDSAT held that functions enumerated in Section 11(1)(b) cannot  be
said to be part of the recommendatory power which is  contained  in  Section
11(1)(a).
11.9        COAI and others filed EA No. 21/2007 seeking  implementation  of
TDSAT’s order dated 24.8.2007 and claiming benefit of  the  Authority  order
from 11.9.2006 when it was  issued  and  refund  of  the  amounts  collected
contrary to the same. EA was allowed vide impugned  order  dated  28.11.2007
and BSNL was directed to refund the  amounts  collected  in  excess  of  the
Authority decision dated 11.9.206. Tribunal  held  that  by  virtue  of  its
order, the Authority decision would  be  operative  prospectively  from  the
date on which it was issued and especially in light of the absence of  stay,
BSNL was not entitled to collect any sum contrary to the Authority  decision
and cannot now take advantage of its wrong.
Civil Appeal Nos. 271-281 of 2011
12.1        These appeals have been filed for setting aside  final  judgment
and order dated 29.9.2010 passed by TDSAT whereby  it  disposed  off  Appeal
Nos. 4/2006; 6/2006; 5/2007; 5/2008; 2-8/2009 and  remanded  the  matter  to
the Authority with a direction  to  consider  the  matter  relating  to  IUC
Regulations afresh.
12.2        The Authority issued Telecommunication Interconnection  (Charges
and Revenue Sharing) Regulation (No.  5  of  2001)  –  basic  framework  for
regulating access charges on 14.12.2001. Separate Regulation for  regulating
port charges was issued by the Authority in  Dec  2001.  On  24.1.2003,  the
Authority issued Telecom  Interconnection  Usage  Charges  Regulation,  2003
according to which termination charges were fixed  at  Rs  0.30  per  minute
(metro) and Rs 0.40 (circle). The concept of  Access  Deficit  Charge  (ADC)
was also introduced at 30% of the total  sectoral  revenue  -  fee  paid  by
private operators to cross subsidise BSNL for deploying  its  fixed  network
in non-lucrative areas.
12.3        On receipt of representation dated 4.2.2003 by  COAI  about  the
anomalies in the 2003 IUC Regulations, the Authority undertook a  review  on
29.10.2003 and reduced the termination charges to a uniform rate, i.e.,  Rs.
0.30 per minute for all types of calls  and  the  ADC  was  made  10%.   The
representation  made  by  COAI  for  further  reduction  in  the  amount  of
termination charges was, however, rejected by the Authority.
12.4        Between 2005 and 2008, 5 amendments were made and in the  matter
of payment of  ADC  on  9.3.2009,  the  Authority  notified  IUC  (Amendment
Regulations, 2009) fixing termination charge  at  Rs  0.20  per  minute  for
local and national  long  distance  calls  and  mobile  telephone  services.
These regulations were challenged by BSNL and various private  operators  by
filing separate appeals, the details of which are given below:

|Appeal No. |Appellant  |Details of Appeal                            |
|Appeal No. |BSNL       |Challenged the IUC Regulations, 2006 alleging|
|6/2006     |           |denial of payment of ADC by TRAI and         |
|           |           |prescription of uniform termination charges  |
|           |           |when cost of calls terminating in wireless   |
|           |           |network is almost 1/3rd of calls on the      |
|           |           |wireline network.                            |
|Appeal No. |BSNL       |Challenged the 8th Amendment dt. 21.3.2007 to|
|5/2007     |           |the extent of reduction of ADC payable to    |
|           |           |BSNL and fixation of uniform termination     |
|           |           |charges (Mobile Termination Charge and Fixed |
|           |           |Termination Charge).                         |
|Appeal No. |BSNL       |Challenged the 9th Amendment dt. 27.3.2008 to|
|5/2008     |           |the extent of reduction of ADC payable to    |
|           |           |BSNL and fixation of uniform termination     |
|           |           |charges.                                     |
|Appeal No. |COAI       |Challenging the Regulations, 2006 to the     |
|4/2006     |           |extent that Mobile Termination Charge at Rs. |
|           |           |0.30 per minute has been maintained which is |
|           |           |not cost based as stated by TRAI.            |
|Appeal No. |BSNL       |Seeking setting aside of the Regulation dt.  |
|2/2009     |           |9.3.2009 to the extent of fixation of        |
|           |           |termination charges and carriage charge.     |
|Appeal No. |AUSPI      |Seeking setting aside of Regulation dt.      |
|3/2009     |           |9.3.2009. Review of termination charge,      |
|           |           |transit charge and port charge.              |
|Appeal No. |Vodafone   |Seeking setting aside of Regulation dt.      |
|4/2009     |           |9.3.2009. Reduce termination charge to 35    |
|           |           |paise or remand for fresh consideration by   |
|           |           |TRAI. Determine MTC using Forward looking    |
|           |           |long range increment cost (FL-LRIC). Take in |
|           |           |to account CAPEX, OPEX, common cost and cost |
|           |           |of capital mark up listed under the heading  |
|           |           |“International Practice in Cost Modelling”   |
|           |           |which is very well established. Not to offset|
|           |           |this cost by applying amount attributable to |
|           |           |revenue earned from provision of telecom     |
|           |           |services including VAS in determining MTC.   |
|Appeal No. |M/s Bharati|Similar to Vodafone.                         |
|5/2009     |Airtel     |Additionally, increase termination charges on|
|           |           |international roaming. Determination of      |
|           |           |transit charge/carriage charge from level II |
|           |           |TAX to SDCC and Intra SDCA and TAX transit   |
|           |           |charge on basis of cost principles.          |
|Appeal No. |M/s Idea   |Similar to M/s Bharati Airtel                |
|6/2009     |Cellular   |                                             |
|           |Ltd. & Ors.|                                             |
|Appeal No. |M/s Aircel |Similar to Vodafone.                         |
|7/2009     |Ltd. & Ors.|                                             |
|Appeal No. |Etisalat   |Seeking setting aside of Regulation dt.      |
|8/2009     |D.B.       |9.3.2009. Direction to TRAI to: re-introduce |
|           |Telecom (P)|termination charges based on whether operator|
|           |Ltd.       |is a new entrant and had fulfilled roll out  |
|           |           |obligation; determine MTC at not more then 09|
|           |           |paise per minute and FTC at not more than 10 |
|           |           |paise per minute; fix TAX transit charge at  |
|           |           |not more than 02 paise; reduce long distance |
|           |           |carriage charge to not more than 11 paise per|
|           |           |minute; fix ‘nil’ charge for receipt of      |
|           |           |interconnect SMS traffic on the receiving    |
|           |           |telecom network.                             |

12.5        By  an  order  dated  12.5.2009,  TDSAT  dismissed  Appeal  Nos.
6/2006, 5/2007 and 5/2008.  However, by  the  impugned  order  some  of  the
appeals were disposed of and the matter was remanded to the  Authority  with
a direction to consider the matter  afresh  and  complete  the  consultation
process in a time bound manner so that the new IUC  charges  could  be  made
effective/implemented by 1.1.2011.
Transferred Case No.39 of 2010
13.1        The  transferred  case  is  Letters  Patent  Appeal  No.337/2007
titled TRAI v. Telecom Dispute Settlement Appellate  Tribunal  and  another,
which was filed before the Division Bench of the Delhi  High  Court  against
order dated 23.12.2005 passed by the learned Single Judge in  Writ  Petition
No.2838/2005.
13.2        The  Authority  enacted  the  Telecommunication  Interconnection
Usage Charges Regulation 2003 (4 of 2003) on  29.10.2003  under  Section  36
read with Section 11(1)(b)(ii),  (iii)  and  (iv).  These  regulations  were
amended vide notifications dated 25.11.2003, 12.12.2003 and  31.12.2003  and
6.1.2005.  By the last amendment, provision was  made  for  modification  of
the method and manner of charging Access Deficit Charges
13.3        MTNL filed Appeal No. 3/2006 for quashing the amendment made  in
2005 on the premise that its entitlement to Access Deficit Charges had  been
arbitrarily  reduced.   On  notice  by  TDSAT,  the   Authority   raised   a
preliminary objection to  the  former’s  jurisdiction.   TDSAT  relied  upon
various provisions of the Act, the  judgments  of  this  Court  in  Clariant
International Limited v. Security Exchange Board (2004) 8 SCC 524,  Cellular
Operators Association of India v. Union of India (2003) 3 SCC 186  and  West
Bengal Electivity Regulatory Commission v. CESC Ltd (2002)  8  SCC  715  and
held that the Authority is empowered to frame regulations  circumscribed  by
the statutory provisions and that it has no authority to  frame  regulations
in respect of matters not specifically provided  for  and  in  such  matters
only TDSAT had the jurisdiction to issue directions.
14.   Before proceeding further, we may notice the background in  which  the
Act was enacted. In India, the first telegraph link was established in  1939
between Calcutta and Diamond Harbour.   In  1851,  the  telegraph  line  was
opened for traffic but it was largely confined to the  work  of  East  India
Company.  The Indian Telegraph Act was enacted in 1885.  It  gave  exclusive
privilege of establishing, maintaining and  working  of  telegraphs  to  the
Central Government, which was also empowered to  grant  licence  to  private
persons to establish telegraph network in any part of India.
15.   After Independence, the Government of India took complete  control  of
the telecom sector and brought it under the Post and  Telegraph  Department.
One major  step  taken  for  improving  telecommunication  services  in  the
country was the establishment of a  modern  telecommunication  manufacturing
facility at Bangalore under the  public  sector,  in  the  name  of  “Indian
Telephone Industries Ltd”. 1984 represents an  important  milestone  in  the
development of telecommunication  sector.  In  that  year,  the  Centre  for
Development of Telematics (“C-DoT”) was set  up  for  developing  indigenous
technologies and licences were given to the private  sector  to  manufacture
subscriber-equipment. In 1986, Mahanagar Telephone  Nigam  Ltd.  and  Videsh
Sanchar Nigam Ltd. (“VSNL”) were set up.  In July 1992 a decision was  taken
to  allow  private  investment  for  the  services  like  electronic   mail,
voicemail, data services, audio text services, video  text  services,  video
conferencing, radio paging and cellular mobile telephone.
16.   In February 1993, the Finance Minister in his Budget speech  announced
Government’s  intention  to  encourage  private   sector   involvement   and
participation  in  Telecom  to   supplement   efforts   of   Department   of
Telecommunications especially in  creation  of  internationally  competitive
industry. On 13.5.1994, National Telecom  policy  was  announced  which  was
placed in Parliament saying that the aim of the  policy  was  to  supplement
the  effort  of  the   Department   of   Telecommunications   in   providing
telecommunications services.  The main objectives of that policy were:

      “(i) affording telecommunication for all and ensuring the availability
      of telephone on demand;


      (ii) providing  certain  basic  telecom  services  at  affordable  and
      reasonable prices to all people and covering all villages;


      (iii) giving world  standard  telecom  services;  addressing  consumer
      complaints, dispute resolution and public interface to receive special
      attention and providing the widest permissible range  of  services  to
      meet the customers’ demand and at the same time at a reasonable price;


      (iv) creating a major manufacturing base and major export  of  telecom
      equipment having regard to the country’s size and development; and


      (v) protecting the defence and security interests of the country.”


17.   With the entry  of  private  operators  into  telecom  sector,  proper
regulation of the sector was considered appropriate. An  important  step  in
the institutional reform of Indian telecom  sector  was  setting  up  of  an
independent  regulatory  authority,  i.e.,  Telecom  Regulatory   Authority.
Initially, it was proposed to set up the Authority as a  non-statutory  body
and for that purpose,  the  Indian  Telegraph  (Amendment)  Bill,  1995  was
introduced and was passed by Lok Sabha.  However, when the matter was  taken
up in Rajya Sabha, the members expressed the view that the Authority  should
be set up as a statutory body. Keeping that in view as also the 22nd  Report
of the Standing Committee on Communications, the Telecom Authority of  India
Ordinance, 1996 was promulgated.  In Delhi Science Forum v. Union  of  India
(1996) 2 SCC 405, this Court took  cognizance  of  some  of  the  provisions
contained in the Ordinance and observed:

      “The existence of a Telecom Regulatory Authority with the  appropriate
      powers is essential for  introduction  of  plurality  in  the  Telecom
      sector. The National Telecom Policy is a historic departure  from  the
      practice followed during the past century. Since  the  private  sector
      will have to contribute more to the development of the telecom network
      than DoT/MTNL in the next  few  years,  the  role  of  an  independent
      Telecom Regulatory Authority  with  appropriate  powers  need  not  be
      impressed, which can  harness  the  individual  appetite  for  private
      gains, for  social  ends.  The  Central  Government  and  the  Telecom
      Regulatory Authority have not to behave like  sleeping  trustees,  but
      have to function as active trustees for the public good.”
                                                         (emphasis supplied)

18.   The 1996 Ordinance was replaced by  the  Act.   The  main  purpose  of
establishing the Authority as a  statutory  body  was  to  ensure  that  the
interest of consumers are protected and, at  the  same  time,  to  create  a
climate for growth of telecommunications, broadcasting  and  cable  services
in such a manner which could enable India  to  play   leading  role  in  the
emerging global  information  society.  The  goals  and  objectives  of  the
Authority are as follows:
i.    Increasing tele-density and access to  telecommunication  services  in
      the country at affordable prices.
ii.         Making available telecommunication services which  in  terms  of
      range, price and quality are comparable to the best in the world.
iii.        Providing  a  fair  and  transparent  policy  environment  which
      promotes a level playing field and facilitates fair competition.
iv.          Establishing  an  interconnection  regime  that  allows   fair,
      transparent, prompt and equitable interconnection.
v.          Re-balancing tariffs so that  the  objectives  of  affordability
      and operator viability are met in a consistent manner.
vi.         Protecting the interest  of  consumers  and  addressing  general
      consumer concerns relating to availability,  pricing  and  quality  of
      service and other matters.
vii.  Monitoring the quality of service provided by the various operators.
viii.  Providing  a  mechanism  for  funding  of  net  cost  areas/   public
      telephones so that Universal Service  Obligations  are  discharged  by
      telecom operators for spread of telecom facilities in remote and rural
      areas.
ix.         Preparing the  grounds  for  smooth  transition  to  an  era  of
      convergence of services and technologies.
x.          Promoting the growth of  coverage  of  radio  in  India  through
      commercial and noncommercial channels.
xi.         Increasing consumer choice  in  reception  of  TV  channels  and
      choosing the operator who would provide television and  other  related
      services.
19.   The Preamble and Sections 3, 11 to 14, 18, 33, 35, 36 and  37  of  the
Act (unamended) read as under:
      “Preamble
      An Act to provide for the  establishment  of  the  Telecom  Regulatory
      Authority of India to regulate the  telecommunication,  and  services,
      and for matters connected therewith or incidental thereto.


      Section 3 - Establishment  and  incorporation  of  Authority-(1)  With
      effect from such date as the Central Government may,  by  notification
      appoint, there shall be established, for the purposes of this Act,  an
      Authority to be called the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India.


      (2) The Authority shall be a body corporate  by  the  name  aforesaid,
      having perpetual succession and a common seal, with power, subject  to
      the provisions of this Act, to acquire, hold and dispose of  property,
      both movable and immovable, and to contact, and  shall,  by  the  said
      name, sue or be sued.


      (3)   The authority shall consist of a
      Chairperson, and not less than two, but not exceeding six members,  to
      be appointed by the Central Government.


      (4)   The head office of the Authority shall be at New Delhi.


      Section 11. Functions of Authority
      (1) Notwithstanding anything contained in the  Indian  Telegraph  Act,
      1885 the functions of the Authority shall be to-

           a. recommend the need and timing for introduction of new service
              provider;

           b. recommend the terms and conditions of licence  to  a  service
              provider;

           c. ensure technical compatibility and effective inter-connection
              between different service providers;

           d. regulate arrangement amongst  service  providers  of  sharing
              their  revenue  derived  from   providing   telecommunication
              services;

           e. ensure compliance of terms and conditions of licence;

           f. recommend revocation of licence for non-compliance  of  terms
              and conditions of licence;

           g. laydown and ensure the time period for  providing  local  and
              long distance circuits of telecommunication between different
              service providers;

           h.  facilitate  competition  and  promote  efficiency   in   the
              operation of telecommunication services so as  to  facilitate
              growth in such services;

           i. protect the interest of the consumers
              of telecommunication service;

           j. monitor the quality of service  and  conduct  the  periodical
              survey of such provided by the service providers;

           k. inspect the equipment used in the network and  recommend  the
              type of equipment to be used by the service providers;

           l. maintain register of interconnect agreements and of all  such
              other matters as may be provided in the regulations;

           m. keep register maintained under clause (I) open for inspection
              to any member of public on payment of such fee and compliance
              of  such  other  requirements  as  may  be  provided  in  the
              regulations;

           n. settle disputes between service providers;

           o. render   advice   to    the Central Government in the matters
              relating to the development of  telecommunication  technology
              and any other matter reliable to  telecommunication  industry
              in general;

           p. levy fees and other charges at such rates and in  respect  of
              such services as may be determined by regulations;

           q. ensure effective compliance of universal service obligations;

           r. perform such other functions  including  such  administrative
              and financial functions as may be  entrusted  to  it  by  the
              Central Government or as may be necessary to  carry  out  the
              provisions of this Act.

      (2) Notwithstanding anything contained in the  Indian  Telegraph  Act,
      1885, the Authority may, from time to time, by order,  notify  in  the
      Official Gazette the rates at  which  the  telecommunication  services
      within India and outside  India  shall  be  provided  under  this  Act
      including the rates at which messages  shall  be  transmitted  to  any
      country outside India;

      Provided that the Authority may notify different rates  for  different
      persons or class of persons for similar telecommunication services and
      where different rates are  fixed  as  aforesaid  the  Authority  shall
      record the reasons therefor.

      (3)  While  discharging  its  functions  under  sub-section  (1),  the
      Authority shall not act against the interest of  the  sovereignty  and
      integrity of India, the security of the State, friendly relations with
      foreign States, public order, decency or morality.

      (4) The Authority  shall  ensure  transparency  while  exercising  its
      powers and discharging its functions.


      12.  Powers  of   Authority   to   call   for   information,   conduct
      investigations, etc.-(1) Where the Authority considers it expedient so
      to do, it may, by order in writing,-


      (a) call upon any service provider at any time to furnish  in  writing
      such information  or  explanation  relating  to  its  affairs  as  the
      Authority may require; or
      (b) appoint one or more persons to make an inquiry in relation to  the
      affairs of any service provider; and
      (c) direct any of its officers or employees to inspect  the  books  of
      account or other documents of any service provider.


      (2) Where any inquiry in relation to the affairs of a service provider
      has been undertaken under sub-section (1),-


      (a) every officer  of  the  Government  Department,  if  such  service
      provider is a department of the Government;
      (b) every director, manager,  secretary  or  other  officer,  if  such
      service provider is a company; or
      (c) every partner,  manager,  secretary  or  other  officer,  if  such
      service provider is a firm; or
      (d) every other person or body of persons who has had dealings in  the
      course of business with any of the persons mentioned  in  clauses  (b)
      and (c),
      shall be bound to produce before the Authority making the inquiry, all
      such books of account or other  documents  in  his  custody  or  power
      relating to, or having a bearing on the subject-matter of such inquiry
      and also to furnish to  the  Authority  with  any  such  statement  or
      information relating thereto, as the case may  be,  required  of  him,
      within such time as may be specified.


      (3) Every service provider shall maintain such  books  of  account  or
      other documents as may be prescribed.


      (4) The Authority shall have the power to  issue  such  directions  to
      service providers as it may consider necessary for proper  functioning
      by service providers.


      13. Powers of Authority to issue directions- The  Authority  may,  for
      the discharge of its functions under sub-section (1)  of  section  11,
      issue such directions from time to time to the service  providers,  as
      it may consider necessary.


      14. Authority to settle disputes-(1) If a dispute arises,  in  respect
      of matters referred to in sub-section (2), among service providers  or
      between service providers and a  group  of  consumers,  such  disputes
      shall be adjudicated by a bench constituted  by  the  Chairperson  and
      such bench shall consist of two members;


      Provided that if the members of the  bench  differ  on  any  point  or
      points they shall state the point or points on which they  differ  and
      refer the same to a third member for hearing on such point  or  points
      and such point or points shall be decided according to the opinion  of
      that member.


      (2) The bench constituted under sub-section (1) shall exercise, on and
      from the appointed day all such jurisdiction, powers and authority  as
      were exerciseable immediately before that date by any
      civil court on any matter relating to-


      (i) technical  compatibility  and  inter-connections  between  service
      providers;
      (ii) revenue sharing arrangements between different service providers;
      (iii) quality of telecommunication services and interest of consumers;


      Provided that nothing in sub-section shall apply in respect of matters
      relating to-
      (a) the monopolistic trade practice, restrictive  trade  practice  and
      unfair trade practice which are subject to  the  jurisdiction  of  the
      Monopolies and  Restrictive  Trade  Practices  Commission  established
      under sub-section (1) of section 5 of the Monopolies  and  Restrictive
      Trade Practices Act, 1969;
      (b) the complaint of an  individual  consumer  maintainable  before  a
      Consumer Disputes Redressal Forum or  a  Consumer  Disputes  Redressal
      Commission or the National Consumer Redressal  Commission  established
      under section 9 of the Consumer Protection Act, 1986;
      (c) dispute between telegraph authority and any other person  referred
      to in sub-section (1) of section 7B of the Indian Telegraph Act, 1885.




      18. Appeal to High Court - Any person aggrieved  by  any  decision  or
      order of the Authority may file an appeal to  the  High  Court  within
      thirty days from the date of communication of the decision or order of
      the Authority to him;


      Provided that the  High  Court  may,  if  it  is  satisfied  that  the
      appellant was prevented by sufficient cause  from  filing  the  appeal
      within the said period, allow it to be filed within a  further  period
      not exceeding sixty days.


      33. Delegation. - The Authority may, by general or  special  order  in
      writing, delegate to any member, officer of the Authority or any other
      person subject to such conditions, if any, as may be specified in  the
      order, such of its powers and functions under  this  Act  (except  the
      power to settle dispute under Chapter IV and to make regulation  under
      section 36) as it may deem necessary.


      35.Power  to  make  rules.-  (1)  The  Central  government   may,   by
      notification, make rules for carrying out the purposes of this Act.


      (2) In particular and without  prejudice  to  the  generality  of  the
      foregoing power, such  rules  may  provide  for  all  or  any  of  the
      following matters, namely;-


      (a) the salary and allowances payable to and the other  conditions  of
      service of the  Chairperson  and  members  under  sub-section  (5)  of
      section 5;


      (b) the powers and functions of the Chairperson under  subsection  (1)
      of section 6;


      (c) the procedure for conducting an inquiry made under subsection  (2)
      of section 7;


      (d) the category of books of accounts or  other  documents  which  are
      required to be maintained under sub-section (3) of section 12;


      (e) the period within which an application is to be  made  under  sub-
      section (1) of section 15;


      (f) the manner in  which  the  accounts  of  the  Authority  shall  be
      maintained under sub-section (1) of section 23;


      (g) the time within which and the form and manner in which returns and
      report are to be made to the Central Government under sub-section  (1)
      and (2) of section 24;


      (h) any other matter which is to be, or  may  be,  prescribed,  or  in
      respect of which provision is to be made, by rules;


      36. Power to make regulations.-(1) The Authority may, by notification,
      make  regulations   consistent  with  this  Act  and  the  rules  made
      thereunder to carry out the purposes of Act.


      (2) In particular, and without prejudice  to  the  generality  of  the
      foregoing power, such regulations may provide for all or  any  of  the
      following matters, namely:-


      (a) the times  and  places  of  meetings  of  the  Authority  and  the
      procedure to be followed at such  meetings  under  subsection  (1)  of
      section 8, including quorum necessary for the transaction of business;


      (b) the transaction of business at the meetings of the Authority under
      sub-section (4) of section 8;


      (c) the salaries and allowances payable to and the other conditions of
      service of officers and other employees of the  Authority  under  sub-
      section (2) of section 10;


      (d) matters in respect of which register is to be  maintained  by  the
      Authority under clause (l) of sub-section (l) of section 11;


      (e) levy of fee and lay down such other requirements on fulfilment  of
      which a copy of register may be obtained  under  clause  (m)  of  sub-
      section (l) of section 11;


      (f) levy of fees and other charges under clause (p) of subsection  (1)
      of Section 11.


      37. Rules and regulations to laid before Parliament. - Every rule  and
      every regulation made under this Act shall be laid, as soon as may  be
      after it is made, before each House of  Parliament,  while  it  is  in
      session, for a total period of thirty days which may be  comprised  in
      one session or in two or more successive sessions, and if, before  the
      expiry of  the  session  immediately  following  the  session  or  the
      successive  sessions  aforesaid,  both  Houses  agree  in  making  any
      modification in the rule or regulations or both Houses agree that  the
      rule or regulation should not be made, the rule  or  regulation  shall
      thereafter have effect only in such modified form or be of no  effect,
      as the case may  be;  so,  however,  that  any  such  modification  or
      annulment shall be without  prejudice  to  the  validity  of  anything
      previously done under that rule or regulation.”



20.     With  a  view  to  overcome  the  difficulties  experienced  in  the
implementation of the Act, the Central Government  constituted  a  Group  on
Telecom and IT Convergence under the Chairmanship of the  Finance  Minister.
The recommendations made by the Group led to the  issuance  of  the  Telecom
Regulatory  Authority  of  India  (Amendment)  Ordinance,  2000,  which  was
replaced by the Telecom  Regulatory  Authority  of  India  (Amendment)  Act,
2000.  One  of  the  important  features  of  the  Amendment  Act  was   the
establishment of a Tribunal known as the  Telecom  Disputes  Settlement  and
Appellate Tribunal for  adjudicating  disputes  between  a  licensor  and  a
licencee, between two or more service providers, between a service  provider
and a group of consumers, and also to hear and dispose of any  appeals  from
the direction, decision or order of the Authority.
21.   The provisions of the amended Act, which have bearing on the  decision
of the question framed in the opening paragraph  of  this  judgment  are  as
under:

      “2. Definitions. –(1)  xxx        xxx        xxx

      (aa) “Appellate Tribunal” means the Telecom  Disputes  Settlement  and
      Appellate Tribunal established under section 14;

      (b) "Authority"  means  the  Telecom  Regulatory  Authority  of  India
      established under sub- section (1) of section 3;

      (e) “Licensee" means any person licensed under  sub-  section  (1)  of
      section 4 of the Indian Telegraph Act, 1885 (13 of 1885) for providing
      specified public telecommunication services;

      (ea)  "licensor"  means  the  Central  Government  or  the   telegraph
      authority who grants a license under section 4 of the Indian Telegraph
      Act, 1885;

      (i) "regulations" means regulations made by the Authority  under  this
      Act;

      (j) "service provider" means the Government as a service provider  and
      includes a licensee;

      (k) "telecommunication  service"  means  service  of  any  description
      (including electronic mail,  voice  mail,  data  services,  audio  tax
      services,  video  tax  services,  radio  paging  and  cellular  mobile
      telephone services) which is made available to users by means  of  any
      transmission or reception  of  signs,  signals,  writing,  images  and
      sounds or intelligence of any nature, by wire, radio, visual or  other
      electro- magnetic means but shall not include broadcasting services:

      Provided that the Central Government may notify other  service  to  be
      telecommunication service including broadcasting services.

      11. Functions of Authority.—(1) Notwithstanding anything contained  in
      the Indian Telegraph Act, 1885 (13 of  1885),  the  functions  of  the
      Authority shall be to—

      (a) make recommendations, either suo motu or on  a  request  from  the
      licensor, on the following matters, namely—

      (i) need and timing for introduction of new service provider;

      (ii) terms and conditions of licence to a service provider;

      (iii) revocation of licence for non-compliance of terms and conditions
      of licence;

      (iv) measures to facilitate competition and promote efficiency in  the
      operation of telecommunication services so as to facilitate growth  in
      such services;

      (v) technological improvements in the services provided by the service
      providers;

      (vi) type of equipment to be  used  by  the  service  providers  after
      inspection of equipment used in the network;

      (vii) measures for the development of telecommunication technology and
      any other matter relatable to telecommunication industry in general;

      (viii) efficient management of available spectrum;

      (b) discharge the following functions, namely—

      (i) ensure compliance of terms and conditions of licence;

      (ii) notwithstanding anything contained in the terms and conditions of
      the licence granted before the commencement of the Telecom  Regulatory
      Authority of India (Amendment) Act, 2000, fix the terms and conditions
      of interconnectivity between the service providers;

      (iii) ensure technical compatibility  and  effective  inter-connection
      between different service providers;

      (iv) regulate arrangement amongst service providers of  sharing  their
      revenue derived from providing telecommunication services;

      (v) lay down the standards of quality of service to be provided by the
      service providers and ensure the quality of service  and  conduct  the
      periodical survey of such service provided by the service providers so
      as to protect interest of the consumers of telecommunication service;

      (vi) lay down and ensure the time period for providing local and  long
      distance  circuits  of  telecommunication  between  different  service
      providers;

      (vii) maintain register of interconnect agreements  and  of  all  such
      other matters as may be provided in the regulations;

      (viii) keep register maintained under clause (vii) open for inspection
      to any member of public on payment of such fee and compliance of  such
      other requirement as may be provided in the regulations;

      (ix) ensure effective compliance of universal service obligations;

      (c) levy fees and other charges at such rates and in respect  of  such
      services as may be determined by regulations;

      (d) perform such other functions  including  such  administrative  and
      financial  functions  as  may  be  entrusted  to  it  by  the  Central
      Government or as may be necessary to carry out the provisions of  this
      Act:

      Provided that the recommendations of the Authority specified in clause
      (a) of  this  sub-section  shall  not  be  binding  upon  the  Central
      Government:

      Provided  further  that  the  Central  Government   shall   seek   the
      recommendations of the Authority in respect of  matters  specified  in
      sub-clauses (i) and (ii) of clause (a) of this sub-section in  respect
      of new licence to be issued to a service provider  and  the  Authority
      shall forward its recommendations within a period of sixty  days  from
      the date on which that Government sought the recommendations:

      Provided also that the Authority may request the Central Government to
      furnish such information or documents as  may  be  necessary  for  the
      purpose of making recommendations under sub-clauses (i)  and  (ii)  of
      clause (a) of this sub-section and that Government shall  supply  such
      information within a  period  of  seven  days  from  receipt  of  such
      request:

      Provided also that the Central Government may issue  a  licence  to  a
      service provider if no recommendations are received from the Authority
      within the period specified in  the  second  proviso  or  within  such
      period as may be mutually agreed upon between the  Central  Government
      and the Authority:

      Provided also that if the Central Government  having  considered  that
      recommendation of the Authority, comes to  a  prima  facie  conclusion
      that such recommendation cannot be accepted or needs modifications, it
      shall  refer  the  recommendation  back  to  the  Authority  for   its
      reconsideration, and the Authority may, within fifteen days  from  the
      date of receipt of such reference, forward to the  Central  Government
      its recommendation  after  considering  the  reference  made  by  that
      Government. After  receipt  of  further  recommendation  if  any,  the
      Central Government shall take a final decision.

      (2) Notwithstanding anything contained in the  Indian  Telegraph  Act,
      1885 (13 of 1885), the Authority may, from time  to  time,  by  order,
      notify  in   the   Official   Gazette   the   rates   at   which   the
      telecommunication services within India and  outside  India  shall  be
      provided under this Act including the rates at which messages shall be
      transmitted to any country outside India:

      Provided that the Authority may notify different rates  for  different
      persons or class of persons for similar telecommunication services and
      where different rates are  fixed  as  aforesaid  the  Authority  shall
      record the reasons therefor.

      (3) While discharging its functions under  sub-section  (1),  or  sub-
      section (2) the Authority shall not act against the  interest  of  the
      sovereignty and  integrity  of  India,  the  security  of  the  State,
      friendly relations with  foreign  States,  public  order,  decency  or
      morality.

      (4) The Authority  shall  ensure  transparency  while  exercising  its
      powers and discharging its functions.

      12.  Powers  of   Authority   to   call   for   information,   conduct
      investigations, etc. - (1) Where the Authority considers it  expedient
      so to do, it may, by order in writing,-

      (a) call upon any service provider at any time to furnish  in  writing
      such information  or  explanation  relating  to  its  affairs  as  the
      authority may require; or

      (b) appoint one or more persons to make an inquiry in relation to  the
      affairs of any service provider; and

      (c) direct any of its officers or employees to inspect  the  books  of
      account or other documents of any service provider.

      (2) Where any inquiry in relation to the affairs of a service provider
      has been undertaken under sub-section (1),-

      (a) every officer  of  the  Government  Department,  if  such  service
      provider is a department of the Government;

      (b) every director, manager,  secretary  or  other  officer,  if  such
      service provider is a company; or

      (c) every partner,  manager,  secretary  or  other  officer,  if  such
      service provider is a firm; or

      (d) every other person or body of persons who has had dealings in  the
      course of business with any of the persons mentioned  in  clauses  (b)
      and (c),

      shall be bound to produce before the Authority making the inquiry, all
      such books of account or other  documents  in  his  custody  or  power
      relating to, or having a bearing on the subject-matter of such inquiry
      and also to furnish to  the  Authority  with  any  such  statement  or
      information relating thereto, as the case may  be,  required  of  him,
      within such time as may be specified.

      (3) Every service provider shall maintain such  books  of  account  or
      other documents as may be prescribed.

       (4) The Authority shall have the power to issue  such  directions  to
      service providers as it may consider necessary for proper  functioning
      by service providers.

      13. Power of Authority to issue directions.—The Authority may, for the
      discharge of its functions under sub-section (1) of section 11,  issue
      such directions from time to time to the service providers, as it  may
      consider necessary:

      Provided that no direction under sub-section  (4)  of  Section  12  or
      under this section shall be issued except on the matters specified  in
      clause (b) of sub-section (1) of Section 11.”

      14. Establishment of Appellate Tribunal.—The Central Government shall,
      by notification, establish an Appellate Tribunal to be  known  as  the
      Telecom Disputes Settlement and Appellate Tribunal to–

      (a)   adjudicate any dispute–

            (i)  between a licensor and a licensee;

            (ii) between two or more service providers;

      (iii) between a service provider and a group of consumers;

      Provided that nothing in this clause shall apply in respect of matters
      relating to–

      (A)   the monopolistic trade practice, restrictive trade practice  and
      unfair trade practice which are subject to  the  jurisdiction  of  the
      Monopolies and  Restrictive  Trade  Practices  Commission  established
      under sub-section (1) of section 5 of the Monopolies  and  Restrictive
      Trade Practices Act, 1969 (54 of 1969);

      (B)   the complaint of an individual consumer  maintainable  before  a
      consumer Disputes Redressal forum or  a  Consumer  Disputes  Redressal
      Commission or the National Consumer Redressal  commission  established
      under section 9 of the Consumer Protection Act, 1986 (68 of 1986);

      (C)    dispute  between  telegraph  authority  and  any  other  person
      referred to in sub-section (1) of section 7B of the  Indian  Telegraph
      Act 1885 (13 of 1885);

      (b)   hear and dispose of appeal against any  direction,  decision  or
      order of the Authority under this Act.

      14A. Application for settlement of disputes and appeals  to  Appellate
      Tribunal.-

      (7) The Appellate Tribunal may,  for  the  purpose  of  examining  the
      legality or propriety or  correctness  of  any  dispute  made  in  any
      application under sub-section (1), or of any  direction  or  order  or
      decision of the Authority referred to in the  appeal  preferred  under
      sub-section (2), on its own motion or otherwise, call for the  records
      relevant to disposing of such applications or  appeal  and  make  such
      orders as it thinks fit.

      14M.  Transfer  of  pending  cases.--All  applications,  pending   for
      adjudication of disputes before the Authority immediately  before  the
      date of establishment of the Appellate Tribunal under this Act,  shall
      stand transferred on that date to such Tribunal:

      Provided that all disputes being adjudicated under the  provisions  of
      Chapter IV as it stood immediately  before  the  commencement  of  the
      Telecom Regulatory Authority (Amendment) Act, 2000, shall continue  to
      be adjudicated by the Authority in  accordance  with  the  provisions,
      contained in that Chapter, till the  establishment  of  the  Appellate
      Tribunal under the said Act:

      Provided further that all cases referred to  in  the  first  provision
      shall be transferred  by  the  Authority  to  the  Appellate  Tribunal
      immediately on its establishment under section 14.

      14N. Transfer of appeals.--(1) All appeals  pending  before  the  High
      Court immediately before the commencement of  the  Telecom  Regulatory
      Authority (Amendment)  Act,  2000,  shall  stand  transferred  to  the
      Appellate Tribunal on its establishment under section 14.

      (2) Where any appeal stands transferred from the  High  Court  to  the
      Appellate Tribunal under sub-section (1),-

      (a)   the High Court shall, as soon as may  be  after  such  transfer,
      forward the records of such appeal to the Appellate Tribunal; and

      (b)   the Appellate Tribunal may, on receipt of such records,  proceed
      to deal with such appeal, so far as may be from the  stage  which  was
      reached before such transfer or from any earlier stage or de  novo  as
      the Appellate Tribunal may deem fit.

      18. Appeal to Supreme Court—(1) Notwithstanding anything contained  in
      the Code of Civil Procedure, 1908 (5 of 1908) or in any other law,  an
      appeal shall lie against any order, not being an interlocutory  order,
      of the Appellate Tribunal to the Supreme Court on one or more  of  the
      grounds specified in section 100 of that Code.

      (2) No appeal shall lie against any decision  or  order  made  by  the
      Appellate Tribunal with the consent of the parties.

      (3) Every appeal under this section shall be preferred within a period
      of ninety days from  the  date  of  the  decision  or  order  appealed
      against:

      Provided that the Supreme Court may entertain  the  appeal  after  the
      expiry of the said period of ninety days, if it is satisfied that  the
      appellant was prevented by sufficient cause from preferring the appeal
      in time.

      33. Delegation. - The Authority may, by general or  special  order  in
      writing, delegate to any member, officer of the Authority or any other
      person subject to such conditions, if any, as may be specified in  the
      order, such of its powers and functions under  this  Act  (except  the
      power to settle dispute under Chapter IV and to make regulation  under
      section 36) as it may deem necessary.

      35.  Power  to  make  rules.-(1)  The  Central  Government   may,   by
      notification, make rules for carrying out the purposes of this Act.

      (2) In particular, and without prejudice  to  the  generality  of  the
      foregoing power, such  rules  may  provide  for  all  or  any  of  the
      following matters namely:-

      (a) the salary and allowances payable to and the other  conditions  of
      service of the  Chairperson  and  members  under  sub-section  (5)  of
      section 5;

      (aa) the allowance payable to the part-time members under  sub-section
      (6A) of section 5;

      (b) the powers and functions of the Chairperson under sub- section (1)
      of section 6;

      (c) the procedure for conducting an inquiry made  under  sub-  section
      (2) of section 7;

      (ca) the salary and allowances and  other  conditions  of  service  of
      officers and other employees of the Authority under sub-section (2) of
      section 10;

      (d) the category of books of account  or  other  documents  which  are
      required to be maintained under sub-section (3) of section 12;

      (da)  the form, the manner of its verification and the fee under  sub-
      section (3) of section 14A;

      (db)  the salary  and  allowances  payable  to  and  other  terms  and
      conditions of service of the Chairperson  and  other  Members  of  the
      Appellate Tribunal under section 14E;

      (dc)  the salary and allowances and other conditions of service of the
      officers and employees of the Appellate Tribunal under sub-section (3)
      of section 14H;

      (dd)  any other power of a civil court required to be prescribed under
      clause (i) of sub-section (2) of section 16;

      (e) the period within which an application is to be  made  under  sub-
      section (1) of section 15;

      (f) the manner in  which  the  accounts  of  the  Authority  shall  be
      maintained under sub-section (1) of section 23;

      (g) the time within which and the form and manner in which returns and
      report are to be made to the Central Government under sub-sections (1)
      and (2) of section 24;

      (h) any other matter which is to be, or  may  be,  prescribed,  or  in
      respect of which provision is to be made, by rules.

      36. Power to make regulations.-(1) The Authority may, by notification,
      make  regulations  consistent  with  this  Act  and  the  rules   made
      thereunder to carry out the purpose of this Act.

      (2) In particular, and without prejudice  to  the  generality  of  the
      foregoing power, such regulations may provide for all or  any  of  the
      following matters, namely:-

      (a) the times  and  places  of  meetings  of  the  Authority  and  the
      procedure to be followed at such meetings  under  sub-section  (1)  of
      section 8, including quorum necessary for the transaction of business;



      (b) the transaction of business at the meetings of the Authority under
      sub-section (4) of section 8;

      (c) omitted by Act 2 of 2000

      (d) matters in respect of which register is to be  maintained  by  the
      Authority under clause (l) of sub-section (1) of section 11;

      (e) levy of fee and lay down such other requirements on fulfilment  of
      which a copy of register may be obtained under sub clause (b) of  sub-
      section (1) of section 11;

      (f) levy of fees and other charges under clause (c) of sub-section (1)
      of section 11.

      37. Rules and regulations to laid before Parliament. - Every rule  and
      every regulation made under this Act shall be laid, as soon as may  be
      after it is made, before each House of  Parliament,  while  it  is  in
      session, for a total period of thirty days which may be  comprised  in
      one session or in two or more successive sessions, and if, before  the
      expiry of  the  session  immediately  following  the  session  or  the
      successive  sessions  aforesaid,  both  Houses  agree  in  making  any
      modification in the rule or regulations or both Houses agree that  the
      rule or regulation should not be made, the rule  or  regulation  shall
      thereafter have effect only in such modified form or be of no  effect,
      as the case may  be;  so,  however,  that  any  such  modification  or
      annulment shall be without  prejudice  to  the  validity  of  anything
      previously done under that rule or regulation.”



22.   A comparative statement of the relevant provisions  of  the  unamended
and amended Acts is given below:

|UNAMENDED ACT                      |AMENDED ACT                         |
|PREAMBLE                           |PREAMBLE                            |
|An Act to provide for the          |An Act to provide for the           |
|establishment of the Telecom       |establishment of the Telecom        |
|Regulatory Authority of India to   |Regulatory Authority of India and   |
|regulate the telecommunication     |the Telecom Disputes Settlement and |
|services, and for matters connected|Appellate Tribunal to regulate the  |
|therewith or incidental thereto.   |telecommunication services,         |
|                                   |adjudicate disputes, dispose of     |
|                                   |appeals and to protect the interests|
|                                   |of service providers and consumers  |
|                                   |of the telecom sector, to promote   |
|                                   |and ensure orderly growth of the    |
|                                   |telecom sector and for matters      |
|                                   |connected therewith or incidental   |
|                                   |thereto.                            |
|Section 3.                         |Section 3                           |
|Establishment and incorporation of |Establishment and incorporation of  |
|Authority.-(1) With effect from    |Authority.-(1) With effect from such|
|such date as the Central Government|date as the Central Government may, |
|may, by notification appoint, there|by notification appoint, there shall|
|shall be established, for the      |be established, for the purposes of |
|purposes of this Act, an Authority |this Act, an Authority to be called |
|to be called the Telecom Regulatory|the Telecom Regulatory Authority of |
|Authority of India.                |India.                              |
|(2) The Authority shall be a body  |(2) The Authority shall be a body   |
|corporate by the name aforesaid,   |corporate by the name aforesaid,    |
|having perpetual succession and a  |having perpetual succession and a   |
|common seal, with power, subject to|common seal, with power, subject to |
|the provisions of this Act, to     |the provisions of this Act, to      |
|acquire, hold and dispose of       |acquire, hold and dispose of        |
|property, both movable and         |property, both movable and          |
|immovable, and to contract, and    |immovable, and to contract, and     |
|shall, by the said name, sue or be |shall, by the said name, sue or be  |
|sued.                              |sued.                               |
|(3) The Authority shall consist of |(3) The Authority shall consist of a|
|a Chairperson, and not less than   |Chairperson, and not more than two  |
|two, but not exceeding six members,|whole-time members and not more than|
|to be appointed by the Central     |two part-time members, to be        |
|Government.                        |appointed by the Central Government.|
|(4) The head office of the         |(4) The head office of the Authority|
|Authority shall be at New Delhi.   |shall be at New Delhi.              |
|Section 11.                        |Section 11.                         |
|Functions of Authority.-(1)        |Functions of Authority.-(1)         |
|Notwithstanding anything contained |Notwithstanding anything contained  |
|in the Indian Telegraph Act, 1885  |in the Indian Telegraph Act, 1885   |
|the functions of the Authority     |(13 of 1885), the functions of the  |
|shall be to-                       |Authority shall be to-              |
|recommend the need and timing for  |make recommendations, either suo    |
|introduction of new service        |motu or on a request from the       |
|provider;                          |licensor, on the following matters, |
|recommend the terms and conditions |namely:-                            |
|of licence to a service provider;  |need and timing for introduction of |
|ensure technical compatibility and |new service provider;               |
|effective inter-connection between |terms and conditions of licence to a|
|different service providers;       |service provider;                   |
|regulate arrangement amongst       |revocation of licence for           |
|service providers of sharing their |non-compliance of terms and         |
|revenue derived from providing     |conditions of licence;              |
|telecommunication services;        |measures to facilitate competition  |
|ensure compliance of terms and     |and promote efficiency in the       |
|conditions of licence;             |operation of telecommunication      |
|recommend revocation of licence for|services so as to facilitate growth |
|non-compliance of terms and        |in such services;                   |
|conditions of licence;             |technological improvements in the   |
|lay down and ensure the time period|services provided by the service    |
|for providing local and long       |providers;                          |
|distance circuits of               |type of equipment to be used by the |
|telecommunication between different|service providers after inspection  |
|service providers;                 |of equipment used in the network;   |
|facilitate competition and promote |measures for the development of     |
|efficiency in the operation of     |telecommunication technology and any|
|telecommunication services so as to|other matter relatable to           |
|facilitate growth in such services;|telecommunication industry in       |
|protect the interest of the        |general;                            |
|consumers of telecommunication     |efficient management of available   |
|service;                           |spectrum;                           |
|monitor the quality of service and |discharge the following functions,  |
|conduct the periodical survey of   |namely:-                            |
|such provided by the service       |ensure compliance of terms and      |
|providers;                         |conditions of licence;              |
|inspect the equipment used in the  |notwithstanding anything contained  |
|network and recommend the type of  |in the terms and conditions of the  |
|equipment to be used by the service|licence granted before the          |
|providers;                         |commencement of the Telecom         |
|maintain register of interconnect  |Regulatory Authority of India       |
|agreements and of all such other   |(Amendment) Act, 2000, fix the terms|
|matters as may be provided in the  |and conditions of inter-connectivity|
|regulations;                       |between the service providers;      |
|keep register maintained under     |ensure technical compatibility and  |
|clause (l) open for inspection to  |effective inter-connection between  |
|any member of public on payment of |different  service providers;       |
|such fee and compliance of such    |regulate arrangement amongst service|
|other requirements as may be       |providers of sharing their revenue  |
|provided in the regulations;       |derived from providing              |
|settle disputes between service    |telecommunication services;         |
|providers;                         |lay-down the standards of quality of|
|render   advice   to    the Central|service to be provided by the       |
|Government in the matters relating |service providers and ensure the    |
|to the development of              |quality of service and conduct the  |
|telecommunication technology and   |periodical survey of such service   |
|any other matter relatable to      |provided by the service providers so|
|telecommunication industry in      |as to protect interest of the       |
|general;                           |consumers of telecommunication      |
|levy fees and other charges at such|service;                            |
|rates and in respect of such       |lay-down and ensure the time period |
|services as may be determined by   |for providing local and long        |
|regulations;                       |distance circuits of                |
|ensure effective compliance of     |telecommunication between different |
|universal service obligations;     |service providers;                  |
|perform such other functions       |maintain register of interconnect   |
|including such administrative and  |agreements and of all such other    |
|financial functions as may be      |matters as may be provided in the   |
|entrusted to it by the Central     |regulations;                        |
|Government or as may be necessary  |keep register maintained under      |
|to carry out the provisions of this|clause (vii) open for inspection to |
|Act.                               |any member of public on payment of  |
|(2) Notwithstanding anything       |such fee and compliance of such     |
|contained in the Indian Telegraph  |other requirement as may be provided|
|Act, 1885, the Authority may, from |in the regulations;                 |
|time to time, by order, notify in  |ensure effective compliance of      |
|the Official Gazette the rates at  |universal service obligations;      |
|which the telecommunication        |levy fees and other charges at such |
|services within India and outside  |rates and in respect of such        |
|India shall be provided under this |services as may be determined by    |
|Act including the rates at which   |regulations;                        |
|messages shall be transmitted to   |perform such other functions        |
|any country outside India;         |including such administrative and   |
|Provided that the Authority may    |financial functions as may be       |
|notify different rates for         |entrusted to it by the Central      |
|different persons or class of      |Government or as may be necessary to|
|persons for similar                |carry out the provisions of this    |
|telecommunication services and     |Act:                                |
|where different rates are fixed as |Provided that the recommendations of|
|aforesaid the Authority shall      |the Authority specified in clause   |
|record the reasons therefor.       |(a) of this sub-section shall not be|
|(3) While discharging its functions|binding upon the Central Government:|
|under sub-section (1), the         |Provided further that the Central   |
|Authority shall not act against the|Government shall seek the           |
|interest of the sovereignty and    |recommendations of the Authority in |
|integrity of India, the security of|respect of matters specified in     |
|the State, friendly relations with |sub-clauses (i) and (ii) of clause  |
|foreign States, public order,      |(a) of this sub-section in respect  |
|decency or morality.               |of new licence to be issued to a    |
|(4) The Authority shall ensure     |service provider and the Authority  |
|transparency while exercising its  |shall forward its recommendations   |
|powers and discharging its         |within a period of sixty days from  |
|functions.                         |the date on which that Government   |
|                                   |sought the recommendations:         |
|                                   |Provided also that the Authority may|
|                                   |request the Central Government to   |
|                                   |furnish such information or         |
|                                   |documents as may be necessary for   |
|                                   |the purpose of making               |
|                                   |recommendations under sub-clauses   |
|                                   |(i) and (ii) of clause (a) of this  |
|                                   |sub-section and that Government     |
|                                   |shall supply such information within|
|                                   |a period of seven days from receipt |
|                                   |of such request:                    |
|                                   |Provided also that the Central      |
|                                   |Government may issue a licence to a |
|                                   |service provider if no              |
|                                   |recommendations are received from   |
|                                   |the Authority within the period     |
|                                   |specified in the second proviso or  |
|                                   |within such period as may be        |
|                                   |mutually agreed upon between the    |
|                                   |Central Government and the          |
|                                   |Authority:                          |
|                                   |Provided also that if the Central   |
|                                   |Government having considered that   |
|                                   |recommendation of the Authority,    |
|                                   |comes to a prima facie conclusion   |
|                                   |that such recommendation cannot be  |
|                                   |accepted or needs modifications, it |
|                                   |shall, refer the recommendation back|
|                                   |to the Authority for its            |
|                                   |reconsideration, and the Authority  |
|                                   |may within fifteen days from the    |
|                                   |date of receipt of such reference,  |
|                                   |forward to the Central Government   |
|                                   |its recommendation after considering|
|                                   |the reference made by that          |
|                                   |Government. After receipt of further|
|                                   |recommendation if any, the Central  |
|                                   |Government shall take a final       |
|                                   |decision.                           |
|                                   |(2) Notwithstanding anything        |
|                                   |contained in the Indian Telegraph   |
|                                   |Act, 1885 (13 of 1885), the         |
|                                   |Authority may, from time to time, by|
|                                   |order, notify in the Official       |
|                                   |Gazette the rates at which the      |
|                                   |telecommunication services within   |
|                                   |India and outside India shall be    |
|                                   |provided under this Act including   |
|                                   |the rates at which messages shall be|
|                                   |transmitted to any country outside  |
|                                   |India:                              |
|                                   |Provided that the Authority may     |
|                                   |notify different rates for different|
|                                   |persons or class of persons for     |
|                                   |similar telecommunication services  |
|                                   |and where different rates are fixed |
|                                   |as aforesaid the Authority shall    |
|                                   |record the reasons therefor.        |
|                                   |(3) While discharging its functions |
|                                   |under sub-section (1) or sub-section|
|                                   |(2) the Authority shall not act     |
|                                   |against the interest of the         |
|                                   |sovereignty and integrity of India, |
|                                   |the security of the State, friendly |
|                                   |relations with foreign States,      |
|                                   |public order, decency or            |
|                                   |morality.                           |
|                                   |(4) The Authority shall ensure      |
|                                   |transparency while exercising its   |
|                                   |powers and discharging its          |
|                                   |functions.                          |
|Section 13                         |                                    |
|Powers of Authority to issue       |Section 13                          |
|directions.- The Authority may, for|Power of Authority to issue         |
|the discharge of its functions     |directions.- The Authority may, for |
|under sub-section (1) of section   |the discharge of its functions under|
|11, issue such directions from time|sub-section (1) of section 11, issue|
|to time to the service providers,  |such directions from time to time to|
|as it may consider necessary.      |the service providers, as it may    |
|                                   |consider necessary:                 |
|                                   |Provided that no direction under    |
|                                   |subsection (4) of section 12 or     |
|                                   |under this section shall be issued  |
|                                   |except on the matters specified in  |
|                                   |clause (b) of sub-section. (1) of   |
|                                   |section 11.                         |
|CHAPTER IV                         |CHAPTER IV                          |
|SETTLEMENT OF DISPUTES             |APPELLATE TRIBUNAL                  |
|Section 14.                        |Section 14.                         |
|Authority to settle disputes.- (1) |Establishment of Appellate          |
|If a dispute arises, in respect of |Tribunal.– The Central Government   |
|matters referred to in sub-section |shall, by notification, establish an|
|(2), among service providers or    |Appellate Tribunal to be known as   |
|between service providers and a    |the Telecom Disputes Settlement and |
|group of consumers, such disputes  |Appellate Tribunal to—              |
|shall be adjudicated by a bench    |(a) adjudicate any dispute—         |
|constituted by the Chairperson and |(i) between a licensor and a        |
|such bench shall consist of two    |licensee;                           |
|members:                           |(ii) between two or more service    |
|Provided that if the members of the|providers;                          |
|bench differ on any point or points|(iii) between a service provider and|
|they shall state the point or      |a group of consumers:               |
|points on which they differ and    |Provided that nothing in this clause|
|refer the same to a third member   |shall apply in respect of matters   |
|for hearing on such point or points|relating to—                        |
|and such point or points shall be  |(A) the monopolistic trade practice,|
|decided according to the opinion of|restrictive trade practice and      |
|that member.                       |unfair trade practice which are     |
|(2) The bench constituted under    |subject to the jurisdiction of the  |
|sub-section (1) shall exercise, on |Monopolies and Restrictive Trade    |
|and from the appointed day all such|Practices Commission established    |
|jurisdiction , powers and authority|under subsection (1) of section 5 of|
|as were exercisable immediately    |the Monopolies and Restrictive Trade|
|before that date by any civil court|Practices Act, 1969 (54 of 1969);   |
|on any matter relating to-         |(B) the complaint of an individual  |
|(i) technical compatibility and    |consumer maintainable before a      |
|interconnections between service   |Consumer Disputes Redressal Forum or|
|providers;                         |a Consumer Disputes Redressal       |
|(ii) revenue sharing arrangements  |Commission or the National Consumer |
|between different service          |Disputes? Redressal Commission      |
|providers;                         |established under section 9 of the  |
|(iii) quality of telecommunication |Consumer Protection Act, 1986 (68 of|
|services and interest of consumers:|1986);                              |
|Provided that nothing in this      |(C) dispute between telegraph       |
|sub-section shall apply in respect |authority and any other person      |
|of matters relating to-            |referred to in sub-section (1) of   |
|(a) the   monopolistic   trade     |section 7B of the Indian Telegraph  |
|practice, restrictive trade        |Act, 1885 (13 of 1885);             |
|practice and unfair trade practice |(b) hear and dispose of appeal      |
|which are subject to the           |against any direction, decision or  |
|jurisdiction of the Monopolies and |order of the Authority under this   |
|Restrictive Trade Practices        |Act.                                |
|Commission established under       |Section 14A - Application for       |
|subsection (1) of Section 5 of the |settlement of disputes and appeals  |
|Monopolies and Restrictive Trade   |to Appellate Tribunal               |
|Practices Act, 1969 (54 of 1969);  |(1) The Central Government or a     |
|(b) the complaint of an individual |State Government or a local         |
|consumer maintainable before a     |authority or any person may make an |
|Consumer Disputes Redressal Forum  |application to the Appellate        |
|or a Consumer Disputes Redressal   |Tribunal for adjudication of any    |
|Commission or the National Consumer|dispute referred to in clause (a) of|
|Disputes? Redressal Commission     |section 14.                         |
|established under section 9 of the |(2) The Central Government or a     |
|Consumer Protection Act, 1986 (68  |State Government or a local         |
|of 1986);                          |authority or any person aggrieved by|
|(c) dispute between telegraph      |any direction, decision or order    |
|authority and any other person     |made by the Authority may prefer an |
|referred to in sub-section (1) of  |appeal to the Appellate Tribunal.   |
|section 7-B of the Indian Telegraph|(3) Every appeal under sub-section  |
|Act, 1885 (13 of 1885).            |(2) shall be preferred within a     |
|                                   |period of thirty days from the date |
|                                   |on which a copy of the direction or |
|                                   |order or decision made by the       |
|                                   |Authority is received by the Central|
|                                   |Government or the State Government  |
|                                   |or the local authority or the       |
|                                   |aggrieved person and it shall be in |
|                                   |such form, verified in such manner  |
|                                   |and be accompanied by such fee as   |
|                                   |may be prescribed:                  |
|                                   |Provided that the Appellate Tribunal|
|                                   |may entertain any appeal after the  |
|                                   |expiry of the said period of thirty |
|                                   |days if it is satisfied that there  |
|                                   |was sufficient cause for not filing |
|                                   |it within that period.              |
|                                   |(4) On receipt of an application    |
|                                   |under sub-section (1) or an appeal  |
|                                   |under sub-section (2), the Appellate|
|                                   |Tribunal may, after giving the      |
|                                   |parties to the dispute or the appeal|
|                                   |an opportunity of being heard, pass |
|                                   |such orders thereon as it thinks    |
|                                   |fit.                                |
|                                   |(5) The Appellate Tribunal shall    |
|                                   |send a copy of every order made by  |
|                                   |it to the parties to the dispute or |
|                                   |the appeal and to the Authority, as |
|                                   |the case may be.                    |
|                                   |(6) The application made under      |
|                                   |subsection (1) or the appeal        |
|                                   |preferred under sub-section (2)     |
|                                   |shall be dealt with by it as        |
|                                   |expeditiously as possible and       |
|                                   |endeavour shall be made by it to    |
|                                   |dispose of the application or appeal|
|                                   |finally within ninety days from the |
|                                   |date of receipt of application or   |
|                                   |appeal, as the case may be:         |
|                                   |Provided that where any such        |
|                                   |application or appeal could not be  |
|                                   |disposed of within the said period  |
|                                   |of ninety days, the Appellate       |
|                                   |Tribunal shall record its reasons in|
|                                   |writing for not disposing of the    |
|                                   |application or appeal within that   |
|                                   |period.                             |
|                                   |(7) The Appellate Tribunal may, for |
|                                   |the purpose of examining the        |
|                                   |legality or propriety or            |
|                                   |correctness, of any dispute made in |
|                                   |any application under sub-section   |
|                                   |(1), or of any direction or order or|
|                                   |decision of the Authority referred  |
|                                   |to in the appeal preferred under    |
|                                   |sub-section (2), on its own motion  |
|                                   |or otherwise, call for the records  |
|                                   |relevant to deposing of such        |
|                                   |application or appeal and make such |
|                                   |orders as it thinks fit.            |
|                                   |Section 14M - Transfer of pending   |
|                                   |cases                               |
|                                   |All applications, pending for       |
|                                   |adjudication of disputes before the |
|                                   |Authority immediately before the    |
|                                   |date of establishment of the        |
|                                   |Appellate Tribunal under this Act,  |
|                                   |shall stand transferred on that date|
|                                   |to such Tribunal:                   |
|                                   |Provided that all disputes being    |
|                                   |adjudicated under the provisions of |
|                                   |Chapter IV as it stood immediately  |
|                                   |before the commencement of the      |
|                                   |Telecom Regulatory Authority of     |
|                                   |India (Amendment) Act, 2000, shall  |
|                                   |continue to be adjudicated by the   |
|                                   |Authority in accordance with the    |
|                                   |provisions, contained in that       |
|                                   |Chapter, till the establishment of  |
|                                   |the Appellate Tribunal under the    |
|                                   |said Act:                           |
|                                   |Provided further that all cases     |
|                                   |referred to in the first proviso    |
|                                   |shall be transferred by the         |
|                                   |Authority to the Appellate Tribunal |
|                                   |immediately on its establishment    |
|                                   |under section 14.                   |
|                                   |                                    |
|                                   |Section 14N - Transfer of appeals   |
|                                   |(1) All appeals pending before the  |
|                                   |High Court immediately before the   |
|                                   |commencement of the Telecom         |
|                                   |Regulatory Authority of India       |
|                                   |(Amendment) Act, 2000, shall stand  |
|                                   |transferred to the Appellate        |
|                                   |Tribunal on its establishment under |
|                                   |section                             |
|                                   |14.                                 |
|                                   |(2) Where any appeal stands         |
|                                   |transferred from the High Court to  |
|                                   |the                                 |
|                                   |Appellate Tribunal under sub-section|
|                                   |(1),—                               |
|                                   |(a) the High Court shall, as soon as|
|                                   |may be after such transfer, forward |
|                                   |the                                 |
|                                   |records of such appeal to the       |
|                                   |Appellate                           |
|                                   |Tribunal; and                       |
|                                   |(b) the Appellate Tribunal may, on  |
|                                   |receipt of such records, proceed to |
|                                   |deal with such appeal, so far as may|
|                                   |be from the stage which was reached |
|                                   |before such transfer or from any    |
|                                   |earlier stage or de novo as the     |
|                                   |Appellate Tribunal may deem fit.    |
|Section 16                         |                                    |
|Procedures and powers of           |Section 16                          |
|Authority.- (1) The Authority shall|Procedure and powers of Appellate   |
|be guided by the principles of     |Tribunal.- (1) The Appellate        |
|natural justice.                   |Tribunal shall not be bound by the  |
|(2) The Authority shall have, for  |procedure laid down by the Code of  |
|the purpose of discharging their   |Civil Procedure, 1908 (5 of 1908),  |
|functions under this Chapter, the  |but shall be guided by the          |
|same powers as are vested in a     |principles of natural justice and,  |
|civil court under the Code of Civil|subject to the other provisions of  |
|Procedure, 1908 (5 of 1908) in     |this Act, the Appellate Tribunal    |
|respect of the following matters,  |shall have powers to regulate its   |
|namely                             |own procedure.                      |
|summoning   and    enforcing the   |(2) The Appellate Tribunal shall    |
|attendance of any person and       |have, for the purposes of           |
|examining him on oath;             |discharging its functions under this|
|requiring the discovery and        |Act, the same powers as are vested  |
|production of documents;           |in a civil court under the Code of  |
|receiving evidence on affidavits;  |Civil Procedure, 1908 (5 of 1908),  |
|issuing commissions for the        |while trying a suit, in respect of  |
|examination of witnesses or        |the following matters, namely:—     |
|documents;                         |summoning and enforcing the         |
|reviewing its decisions;           |attendance of any person and        |
|dismissing an application for      |examining him on oath;              |
|default or deciding it ex parte;   |requiring the discovery and         |
|setting aside any order of         |production of documents;            |
|dismissal of any application for   |receiving evidence on affidavits;   |
|default or any order passed by it  |subject to the provisions of        |
|ex parte;                          |sections 123 and 124 of the Indian  |
|any other matter which may be      |Evidence Act,1872 (1 of 1872),      |
|prescribed.                        |requisitioning any public record or |
|(3) Every proceeding before the    |document or a copy of such record or|
|Authority shall be deemed to be a  |document, from any office;          |
|judicial proceeding within the     |issuing commissions for the         |
|meaning of Sections 193 and 228,   |examination of witnesses or         |
|and for the purpose of Section 196 |documents;                          |
|of the Indian Penal Code, 1860 (45 |reviewing its decisions;            |
|of 1860) and the Authority shall be|dismissing an application for       |
|deemed to be a civil court for all |default or deciding it, ex parte;   |
|the purposes of Section 195 and    |setting aside any order of dismissal|
|Chapter XXVI of the Code of        |of any application for default or   |
|Criminal Procedure 1973 (2 of      |any order passed by it, ex parte;   |
|1974).                             |and                                 |
|                                   |any other matter which may be       |
|                                   |prescribed.                         |
|                                   |(3) Every proceeding before the     |
|                                   |Appellate Tribunal shall be deemed  |
|                                   |to be a judicial proceeding within  |
|                                   |the meaning of sections 193 and 228,|
|                                   |and for the purposes of section 196 |
|                                   |of the Indian Penal Code (45 of     |
|                                   |1860) and the Appellate Tribunal    |
|                                   |shall be deemed to be a civil court |
|                                   |for the purposes of section 195 and |
|                                   |Chapter XXVI of the Code of Criminal|
|                                   |Procedure, 1973 (2 of 1974).        |
|Section 19                         |Section 19.                         |
|Orders passed by Authority or High |Orders passed by Appellate Tribunal |
|Court to be executable as a        |to be executable as a decree.-(1) An|
|decree.- Every order made by the   |order passed by the Appellate       |
|Authority under this Act or the    |Tribunal under this Act shall be    |
|order made by the High Court in any|executable by the Appellate Tribunal|
|appeal against any order of the    |as a decree of civil court, and for |
|Authority shall, on a certificate  |this purpose, the Appellate Tribunal|
|issued by any officer of the       |shall have all the powers of a civil|
|Authority or the Registrar of the  |court.                              |
|High Court, as the case may be, be |(2) Notwithstanding anything        |
|deemed to be decree of the civil   |contained in sub-section (1), the   |
|court and shall be executable in   |Appellate Tribunal may transmit any |
|the same manner as a decree of that|order made by it to a civil court   |
|court.                             |having local jurisdiction and such  |
|                                   |civil court                         |
|                                   |shall execute the order as if it    |
|                                   |were a decree made by that court.   |
|Section 20                         |Section 20                          |
|Penalty for wilful failure to      |Penalty for wilful failure to comply|
|comply with orders of Authority or |with orders of Appellate            |
|High Court.- If any person wilfully|Tribunal.-If any person wilfully    |
|fails to comply with the orders of |fails to comply with the order of   |
|the Authority or any order of the  |the Appellate Tribunal, he shall be |
|High Court, as the case may be, he |punishable with fine which may      |
|shall be punishable with fine which|extend to one lakh rupees and in    |
|may extend to one lakh rupees and  |case of a second or subsequent      |
|in case of a second or subsequent  |offence with fine which may extend  |
|offence with fine which may extend |to two lakh rupees and in the case  |
|to two lakh rupees and in the case |of continuing contravention with    |
|of continuing contravention with   |additional fine which may extend to |
|additional fine which may extend to|two lakh rupees for every day during|
|two lakh rupees for every day      |which such default continues.]      |
|during which the default continues.|                                    |
|Section 36                         |Section 36                          |
|Power to make regulations.-(1) The |Power to make regulations.-(1)The   |
|Authority may, by notification,    |Authority may, by notification, make|
|make regulations consistent with   |regulations consistent with this Act|
|this Act and the rules made        |and the rules made thereunder to    |
|thereunder to carry out the        |carry out the purposes of this Act. |
|purposes of this Act.              |(2) In particular, and without      |
|(2) In particular, and without     |prejudice to the generality of the  |
|prejudice to the generality of the |foregoing power, such regulations   |
|foregoing power, such regulations  |may provide for all or any of the   |
|may provide for all or any of the  |following matters, namely:-         |
|following matters, namely:-        |(a) the times and places of meetings|
|(a)  the times and places of       |of the Authority and the procedure  |
|meetings of the Authority and the  |to be followed at such meetings     |
|procedure to be followed at such   |under sub-section (1) of section 8, |
|meetings under sub-section (1) of  |including quorum necessary for the  |
|Section 8, including quorum        |transaction of business;            |
|necessary for the transaction of   |(b) the transaction of business at  |
|business;                          |the                                 |
|(b) the transaction of business at |meetings of the Authority under     |
|the meetings of the Authority under|sub-section (4) of section 8;       |
|sub-section (4) of Section 8;      |xxx                                 |
|(c) the salaries and allowances    |(d) matters in respect of which     |
|payable to and the other conditions|register is to be maintained by the |
|of service of officers and other   |authority under sub-clause (vii) of |
|employees of the Authority under   |clause (b) of sub-section (1) of    |
|sub-section (2) of Section 10;     |section 11;                         |
|(d) matters in respect of which    |(e) levy of fee and lay down such   |
|register is to be maintained by the|other requirements on fulfilment of |
|Authority under clause (l) of      |which a copy of register may be     |
|sub-section (1) of Section 11;     |obtained under sub-clause (viii) of |
|(e) levy of fee and lay down such  |clause (b) of sub-section (1) of    |
|other requirements on fulfilment of|section 11;                         |
|which a copy of register may be    |(f) levy of fees and other changes  |
|obtained under clause (m) of       |under clause (c) of sub-section (1) |
|sub-section (1) of Section 11;     |of section 11;                      |
|(f) levy of fees and other charges |                                    |
|under clause (p) of sub-section (1)|                                    |
|of section 11.                     |                                    |

23.   We shall now deal with the question  formulated  by  this  Court,  the
first facet of which relates to the scope of Section 36 of the Act.
24.   Shri R.F. Nariman, learned Solicitor General  argued  that  the  power
vested in the Authority to make regulations for carrying  out  the  purposes
of the Act is very wide and  is  not  controlled  by  Section  36(2),  which
provides for framing of regulations  on  specified  matters.   He  submitted
that if power is conferred upon a statutory authority  to  make  subordinate
legislation in general terms, the particularization of the topics is  merely
illustrative and does not limit the scope of  the  general  power.   Learned
Solicitor General further argued that for carrying out the purposes  of  the
Act, the Authority can make regulations  on  various  matters  specified  in
other sections including Sections 8(1), 8(4), 11(1)(b),  12(4)  and  13.  He
submitted that the regulations made under Section 36(1) and (2) are  in  the
nature of subordinate legislation and are required to be  laid  before  each
House of Parliament in terms of  Section  37  and  Parliament  can  approve,
modify  or  annul  the  same.  He  further  submitted  that  a   restrictive
interpretation of Section 36(1) with reference to Clauses (a), (b)  and  (d)
of Section 36(2) will make the provision otiose and  the  Court  should  not
adopt that course.
25.   Shri A.S. Chandhiok, learned senior counsel appearing for BSNL  argued
that sub-section (1) of Section 36 should not  be  construed  as  conferring
unbridled  power  upon  the  Authority  to  make  regulations,  else   other
provisions like Sections 12(4) and 13, which empower the Authority to  issue
directions  on  certain  matters  would   become   redundant.    Shri   C.S.
Vaidyanathan, learned senior counsel appearing for the  appellants  in  C.A.
Nos.6049/2005, 802/2006, 4523/2006 and 5184/2010 argued that  Section  36(1)
should be  construed  consistent  with  other  provisions  of  the  Act  and
regulations cannot be made on the matters covered by other  provisions.   He
referred to Section 11(2) and argued  that  the  power  conferred  upon  the
Authority to issue an order fixing the rates at which the  telecommunication
services are to be provided within and outside India including the rates  at
which messages are required to be transmitted to any country  outside  India
and the power vested in the authority under Section 12(4) and  13  to  issue
directions  to  the  service  providers  cannot  be  controlled  by   making
regulations under  Section  36(1).  Shri  Vaidyanathan  emphasized  that  if
Parliament has conferred power upon the Authority  under  Section  11(2)  to
notify the rates by a transparent method,  the  power  under  Section  36(1)
cannot be used  for  framing  regulation  on  that  topic.   Learned  senior
counsel referred  to  Section  62  of  the  Electricity  Act,  2003,  which,
according to him, is pari materia to Section 11(2) and argued that  in  view
of paragraph 15 of the judgment in PTC India Limited v. Central  Electricity
Regulatory Commission (2010) 4 SCC 603, regulations cannot be framed on  the
subject specified  in  that  section.   Dr.  A.M.  Singhvi,  learned  senior
counsel appearing for the appellants in C.A.  Nos.271-281/2011  argued  that
the operation of Section 36(1) of the Act is controlled  by  Section  36(2),
which provide for framing of regulation in respect of some ministerial  acts
required to be performed under the Act and argued that the Authority  cannot
make regulations on the subjects specifically covered by  other  provisions.
Dr. Singhvi submitted that the Court should not give  an  interpretation  to
Section 36(1) which will make the Authority an unruly horse  and  enable  it
to style every instrument as a regulation and thereby exclude the same  from
challenge before TDSAT.  An ancillary argument made by Dr. Singhvi  is  that
if regulations are framed on the topics covered by other provisions  of  the
Act, then TDSAT will be denuded much of its jurisdiction and the purpose  of
creating an independent adjudicatory body  will  be  defeated.   Shri  Mukul
Rohatgi, learned senior counsel argued  that  the  scope  of  Section  36(1)
should be confined to the topics specified in sub-section (2) thereof,  else
the  same  will  become  inconsistent  with  other  provisions  of  the  Act
including Sections  11(2),  (4),  12(4)  and  13.   Shri  Ramji  Srinivasan,
learned  counsel  appearing  in  some  of  the  appeals,  argued  that   the
regulation making power under Section 36(1) cannot be  used  for  nullifying
the power of the Authority to issue directions on the  topics  specified  in
Sections 11(1)(b), 11(2), 12(4) and 13.
26.   We have considered the respective arguments. Under the unamended  Act,
the Authority had the following three types of functions:


                          RECOMMENDATORY FUNCTIONS


      Under Section 11 (1) (a) of  the  TRAI  Act  1997,  the  Authority  is
      required to make recommendations either suo moto or on a request  from
      the licensor, i.e., Department of Telecommunications  or  Ministry  of
      Information & Broadcasting in  the  case  of  Broadcasting  and  Cable
      Services.


      TRAI has powers to make recommendations either suo motu or on  request
      from the licensor on the following matters as per Section 11(1)(a):


        i) need and timing for introduction of new service provider;

       ii) terms and conditions of licence to a service provider;

      iii) revocation of licence for non-compliance of terms and conditions
           of licence;

       iv) measures to facilitate competition and promote efficiency in the
           operation of telecommunication  services  so  as  to  facilitate
           growth in such services;

        v) technological improvements  in  the  services  provided  by  the
           service providers;

       vi) type of equipment to be used  by  the  service  providers  after
           inspection of equipment used in the network;

      vii) measures for the development of telecommunication technology and
           any other matter  relatable  to  telecommunication  industry  in
           general;

     viii) efficient management of available spectrum.




                            REGULATORY FUNCTIONS


      The Authority also had regulatory and tariff setting  functions,  like
      ensuring  compliance  of  terms  and  conditions  of  licence,  laying
      standard of  Quality  of Service  (QoS)  to  be  provided  by  service
      providers and notifying the rates at which telecommunication has to be
      provided and ensuring effective compliance of USOs. It  also  had  the
      power to call upon any service provider at  any  time  to  furnish  in
      formation or explanation, in writing, relating to its affairs. It  was
      required to  ensure  transparency  while  exercising  its  powers  and
      discharging its functions. It was given powers to punish for violation
      of its directions.


      Another approach was through feedback / representations received  from
      consumers / consumer organizations, experts etc.

      These functions  could  be  discharged  by  the  Authority  through  a
      multipronged approach.  One of these approaches was by  analyzing  the
      reports received from the service providers.  In  certain  cases,  the
      Authority could  on  its  own  initiative  take  action  for  ensuring
      compliance of terms and conditions of license.


                           ADJUDICATORY FUNCTIONS


      Originally, TRAI was also empowered to adjudicate upon disputes  among
      Service Providers or between the Service  Providers  and  a  group  of
      Consumers  on  matters  relating  to   technical   compatibility   and
      interconnection  between  the  Service  Providers,   revenue   sharing
      arrangement between Service Providers,  quality  of  telecommunication
      services and interests of consumers.




27.   After the amendment of 2000, the Authority can either suo motu  or  on
a request from the licensor make recommendations on the subjects  enumerated
in Section 11(1)(a)(i) to (viii).  Under Section 11  (1)(b),  the  authority
is required to perform nine functions enumerated  in  clauses  (i)  to  (ix)
thereof.   In  these  clauses,    different  terms  like  ‘ensure’,   ‘fix’,
‘regulate’ and ‘lay down’ have been used.  The  use  of  the  term  ‘ensure’
implies that the Authority can issue directions on the  particular  subject.
For effective discharge of functions under various clauses of Section  11(1)
(b), the authority can frame appropriate regulations.  The  term  ‘regulate’
contained  in  sub-clause  (iv)  shows  that  for  facilitating  arrangement
amongst service providers for sharing their revenue derived  from  providing
telecommunication services, the Authority can  either  issue  directions  or
make regulations.
28.   The terms ‘regulate’ and ‘regulation’ have been interpreted  in  large
number of judgments. We may notice few of them.  In V.S. Rice  &  Oil  Mills
v. State of A.P. AIR 1964 SC 1781, agreements for a period of ten years  had
been executed for supply of electricity and the same  did  not  contain  any
provision authorising the Government to  increase  the  rates  during  their
operation. However, in exercise of power under Section 3(1)  of  the  Madras
Essential Articles Control and Requisitioning (Temporary Powers) Act,  1949,
the State Government issued order enhancing the agreed rates.  The same  was
challenged on the ground that any increase in agreed tariff was out  of  the
purview of Section 3(1). Chief  Justice  Gajendragadkar,  speaking  for  the
Constitution Bench, observed as under:
      “The word regulate is wide enough to confer  power  on  the  State  to
      regulate either by increasing the rate, or decreasing  the  rate,  the
      test being what is it that is necessary or expedient  to  be  done  to
      maintain, increase, or secure supply  of  the  essential  articles  in
      question and  to  arrange  for  its  equitable  distribution  and  its
      availability at fair prices. The  concept  of  fair  prices  to  which
      Section 3(1) expressly refers does not mean that the price once  fixed
      must either remain stationary, or must be reduced in order to  attract
      the power to regulate. The power to  regulate  can  be  exercised  for
      ensuring the payment of a fair price, and the fixation of a fair price
      would inevitably depend upon  a  consideration  of  all  relevant  and
      economic factors which contribute to the determination of such a  fair
      price. If the fair price indicated on a dispassionate consideration of
      all relevant factors turns out to be higher than the price  fixed  and
      prevailing, then the power to  regulate  the  price  must  necessarily
      include the power to increase  so  as  to  make  it  fair.  Hence  the
      challenge to the validity of orders increasing the agreed tariff  rate
      on the ground that they are outside the purview of Section 3(1) cannot
      be sustained.”


29.   In State of Tamil Nadu v. Hind Stone (1981)  2  SCC  205,  this  Court
held that the word ‘regulate’ must be interpreted to  include  ‘prohibition’
within its fold.  Some of the observations made in that judgment  (paragraph
10) are extracted below:
      “We do not think that ‘regulation’ has that  rigidity  of  meaning  as
      never to take in ‘prohibition’. Much depends on the context  in  which
      the expression is used in the statute and  the  object  sought  to  be
      achieved by the contemplated regulation. It was observed by Mathew, J.
      in G.K. Krishnan v.  State  of  T.N.  (1975)  1  SCC  375:  ‘The  word
      “regulation” has no fixed connotation. Its meaning  differs  according
      to the nature of the thing to which it is applied.’ In modern statutes
      concerned  as  they  are  with   economic   and   social   activities,
      ‘regulation’ must, of necessity, receive  so  wide  an  interpretation
      that in certain situations, it must exclude competition to the  public
      sector from the private sector. More so in a  welfare  State.  It  was
      pointed out by the Privy Council in Commonwealth of Australia v.  Bank
      of New South Wales (1949) 2 All ER — and we agree with what was stated
      therein — that the problem whether  an  enactment  was  regulatory  or
      something more or whether a restriction was direct or only  remote  or
      only incidental involved, not so much legal as  political,  social  or
      economic consideration and that it could not be laid down that  in  no
      circumstances could the exclusion of competition so  as  to  create  a
      monopoly, either in a State or Commonwealth agency, be justified. Each
      case, it was said, must be judged on its own  facts  and  in  its  own
      setting of time and circumstances and it might be that  in  regard  to
      some economic activities and at  some  stage  of  social  development,
      prohibition with a view to State monopoly was the only  practical  and
      reasonable manner  of  regulation.  The  statute  with  which  we  are
      concerned, the Mines and Minerals (Regulation and Development) Act, is
      aimed, as we have already said more than once, at the conservation and
      the prudent and discriminating exploitation of  minerals.  Surely,  in
      the case of a scarce mineral, to permit exploitation by the  State  or
      its agency and to prohibit exploitation by  private  agencies  is  the
      most effective method of conservation and prudent exploitation. If you
      want to conserve for the future, you must prohibit in the present.  We
      have no doubt that the prohibiting of leases in certain cases is  part
      of the regulation contemplated by Section 15 of the Act.”


30.   In K. Ramanathan v. State of Tamil Nadu (1985) 2 SCC 116,  this  Court
interpreted the word  ‘regulation’  appearing  in  Section  3(2)(d)  of  the
Essential Commodities Act, 1955 and observed:
      “The word “regulation” cannot have any rigid or inflexible meaning  as
      to exclude “prohibition”. The word “regulate” is difficult  to  define
      as having any precise meaning. It is a word of broad import, having  a
      broad meaning,  and  is  very  comprehensive  in  scope.  There  is  a
      diversity of opinion as to  its  meaning  and  its  application  to  a
      particular state of facts, some courts giving to the term  a  somewhat
      restricted, and others giving  to  it  a  liberal,  construction.  The
      different shades of meaning are brought out in Corpus Juris  Secundum,
      Vol. 76 at p. 611:


           “‘Regulate’ is  variously  defined  as  meaning  to  adjust;  to
           adjust, order, or govern by rule, method, or  established  mode;
           to adjust or control by rule, method, or  established  mode,  or
           governing principles or laws; to govern; to govern by  rule;  to
           govern by, or subject to,  certain  rules  or  restrictions;  to
           govern or direct according  to  rule;  to  control,  govern,  or
           direct by rule or regulations.


           ‘Regulate’ is also defined as meaning to direct;  to  direct  by
           rule or restriction; to direct or manage  according  to  certain
           standards, laws, or rules;  to  rule;  to  conduct;  to  fix  or
           establish; to restrain; to restrict.”


      See also: Webster’s Third New International Dictionary,  Vol.  II,  p.
      1913 and Shorter Oxford Dictionary, Vol. II, 3rd Edn., p. 1784.


      It has often been said that the power to regulate does not necessarily
      include the power to prohibit, and ordinarily the word  “regulate”  is
      not synonymous with the word “prohibit”. This is  true  in  a  general
      sense and in the sense  that  mere  regulation  is  not  the  same  as
      absolute prohibition. At the same time, the power to regulate  carries
      with it full power over the thing subject to regulation and in absence
      of restrictive words, the power must be regarded as plenary  over  the
      entire subject. It implies the power to rule, direct and control,  and
      involves the adoption of a rule or guiding principle to  be  followed,
      or the making of a rule with respect to the subject to  be  regulated.
      The power to regulate implies the power to check  and  may  imply  the
      power to prohibit under certain circumstances, as where  the  best  or
      only  efficacious  regulation  consists  of  suppression.   It   would
      therefore appear that the word “regulation” cannot have any inflexible
      meaning as to  exclude  “prohibition”.  It  has  different  shades  of
      meaning and must take its colour from the context in which it is  used
      having regard to the purpose and object of the  legislation,  and  the
      Court must necessarily keep in view the mischief which the legislature
      seeks to remedy.


      The question essentially is one of degree and it is impossible to  fix
      any definite  point  at  which  “regulation”  ends  and  “prohibition”
      begins. We may illustrate how different minds have differently reacted
      as to the meaning of the word “regulate” depending on the  context  in
      which it is used and the purpose and object  of  the  legislation.  In
      Slattery v. Nalyor LR (1888) 13 AC 446 the question arose  before  the
      Judicial Committee of the Privy Council whether a Bye-law by reason of
      its prohibiting internment altogether in a  particular  cemetery,  was
      ultra vires because the Municipal Council had only power of regulating
      internments  whereas  the  Bye-law  totally  prohibited  them  in  the
      cemetery in question, and it was said by Lord Hobhouse, delivering the
      judgment of the Privy Council:


           “A rule or Bye-law cannot be Held as ultra vires merely  because
           it prohibits where empowered to regulate,  as  regulation  often
           involved prohibition.”


31.   In Jiyajeerao Cotton Mills Ltd. v. M.P. Electricity  Board  1989  Supp
(2) SCC 52, the validity of the orders providing for  higher  charges/tariff
for electricity consumed beyond legally fixed limit was upheld  in  view  of
Section 22(b) of the Electricity Act, which permits the State Government  to
issue an appropriate order  for  regulating  the  supply,  distribution  and
consumption of electricity. It was held that the  Court  while  interpreting
the expression “regulate” must necessarily keep in view  the  object  to  be
achieved and the mischief sought to be remedied. The necessity  for  issuing
the orders arose out of the scarcity of electricity available to  the  Board
for supplying to its  customers  and,  therefore,  in  this  background  the
demand for higher charges/tariff was held to  be  a  part  of  a  regulatory
measure.
32.   In Deepak Theatre v. State of Punjab  1992  Supp  (1)  SCC  684,  this
Court upheld classification of seats and  fixation  of  rates  of  admission
according to the paying capacity of a cinegoer by observing  that  the  same
is an integral part of the power to make regulation and  fixation  of  rates
of  admission  became  a  legitimate  ancillary  or  incidental   power   in
furtherance of the regulation under the Act.
33.    The  term  ‘regulation’  was  also  interpreted  in  Quarry   Owners’
Association v. State of Bihar (2000)  8  SCC  655  in  the  context  of  the
provisions contained in the  Mines  and  Minerals  (Regulation  Development)
Act, 1957 and it was held:
      “Returning to the present case we find that the words  “regulation  of
      mines and mineral development” are incorporated both in  the  Preamble
      and the Statement of Objects and Reasons of this Act. Before  that  we
      find that the  Preamble  of  our  Constitution  in  unequivocal  words
      expresses to secure for our citizens social,  economic  and  political
      justice. It is in this background and in the context of the provisions
      of the Act, we have to give the meaning of the word “regulation”.  The
      word “regulation” may have a different meaning in a different  context
      but considering it in relation to the economic and  social  activities
      including the development and  excavation  of  mines,  ecological  and
      environmental factors including States’  contribution  in  developing,
      manning and controlling such activities, including  parting  with  its
      wealth, viz., the minerals, the fixation  of  the  rate  of  royalties
      would also be included within its meaning.”



34.   Reference in this connection can also be made to the judgment in  U.P.
Coop. Cane Unions Federation v. West U.P. Sugar Mills Association  (2004)  5
SCC 430.   In  that  case,  the  Court  interpreted  the  word  ‘regulation’
appearing in U.P. Sugarcane (Regulation of Supply and  Purchase)  Act,  1953
and observed:

      “ “Regulate” means to control or to adjust by rule or  to  subject  to
      governing principles. It is a word of broad impact having wide meaning
      comprehending all facets not only specifically enumerated in the  Act,
      but also embraces  within  its  fold  the  powers  incidental  to  the
      regulation  envisaged  in  good  faith  and  its  meaning  has  to  be
      ascertained in the context in which it has been used and  the  purpose
      of the statute.”


35.   It is thus evident that the  term  ‘regulate’  is  elastic  enough  to
include the power to issue directions or to make regulations  and  the  mere
fact that the expression “as may be provided in the  regulations”  appearing
in clauses (vii) and (viii) of Section 11(1)(b) has not been used  in  other
clauses of that sub-section does not mean that  the  regulations  cannot  be
framed under Section 36(1) on the subjects specified in clauses (i) to  (vi)
of Section 11(1)(b).  In fact, by framing regulations under Section 36,  the
Authority can facilitate the exercise of functions under various clauses  of
Section 11(1)(b) including clauses (i) to (vi).
36.   We may now advert to Section 36. Under  sub-Section  (1)  thereof  the
Authority can make  regulations  to  carry  out  the  purposes  of  the  Act
specified in various provisions of the Act including  Sections  11,  12  and
13. The exercise of power under Section 36(1) is hedged with  the  condition
that the regulations must be consistent with the  Act  and  the  Rules  made
thereunder.  There is no other restriction on the power of the Authority  to
make regulations. In terms of Section 37, the regulations  are  required  to
be laid before Parliament which can either  approve,  modify  or  annul  the
same.  Section 36(2), which begins with the words “without prejudice to  the
generality of the power under sub-section (1)” specifies various  topics  on
which regulations can be made  by  the  Authority.  Three  of  these  topics
relate to meetings of the Authority, the procedure to be  followed  at  such
meetings, the transaction of business at the meetings and  the  register  to
be maintained by the  Authority.  The  remaining  two  topics  specified  in
Clauses (e) and (f) of Section  36(2)  are  directly  referable  to  Section
11(1)(b)(viii)  and  11(1)(c).  These  are  substantive  functions  of   the
Authority. However, there is nothing in the language of Section  36(2)  from
which it can be inferred that the provisions contained therein  control  the
exercise of power by the Authority  under  Section  36(1)  or  that  Section
36(2) restricts the scope of Section 36(1).
37.   It is settled law that if power is conferred  upon  an  authority/body
to make subordinate legislation in general terms, the  particularization  of
topics is merely illustrative and  does  not  limit  the  scope  of  general
power.  In Emperor v. Sibnath Banerji AIR 1942 PC  156,  the  Privy  Council
considered the correctness of the judgment of the Federal Court, which  held
that Rule 26 of the Defence of  India  Rules  framed  under  clause  (j)  of
Section 3(2) of  the  Defence  of  India  Act,  1939  was  ultra  vires  the
provisions of the Act.  While reversing the judgment of the  Federal  Court,
the Privy Council observed:

      “In the opinion of their Lordships, the function of sub-section (2) is
      merely an illustrative one; the rule-making power is conferred by sub-
      section (1), and "the rules" which are  referred  to  in  the  opening
      sentence of Sub-section (2) are the . Rules which are  authorized  by,
      and made under, sub-section (1); the provisions of sub-section (2) are
      not restrictive of Sub-section (1), as, indeed is expressly stated  by
      the words "without prejudice to the generality of the powers conferred
      by sub-section (l).”




38.   The proposition laid down in Sibnath Banerji’s case  was  followed  by
this Court in large number of cases.  In  Afzal  Ullah  v.  State  of  Uttar
Pradesh 1964 (4) SCR 991, the Constitution  Bench  considered  challenge  to
the validity  of  bye-law  No.3  framed  by  Municipal  Board,  Tanda.   The
appellant had questioned the bye-law on the ground that the same  was  ultra
vires the provisions of Section 241 of the United  Provinces  Municipalities
Act, 1916. The facts of that case were that the appellant had established  a
market for selling food-grains, vegetables, fruits, fish etc.  The  Chairman
of the Municipal Board issued a notice to the  appellant  requiring  him  to
obtain a licence for running the market with an indication that if he  fails
to do so, criminal proceedings will be initiated against  him.   On  account
of his failure to take the required licence,  the  appellant  was  tried  by
Tahsildar,  Tanda  in  Criminal  Case  No.141  of  1960.     The   Tahsildar
acquitted the appellant on the ground that the  prosecution  had  failed  to
prove the fact that in the market established on the land belonging  to  the
appellant, vegetables, fruits and fish were sold.  The  order  of  acquittal
was set aside by the High  Court  and  the  appellant  was  convicted  under
Section 299(1) of the 1916 Act read with clause (3)  of  the  relevant  bye-
laws.  In the appeal filed before this Court, it  was  argued  that  bye-law
3(a) and other bye-laws passed by the Board are ultra vires  the  provisions
of Section  241  of  the  Act.   The  Constitution  Bench  referred  to  the
provisions of Sections 241 and  298  of  the  Act  and  various  clauses  of
Section 298(2) which specify the topics on which bye-laws can be framed  and
observed:

      “Even if the said clauses did not justify the impugned Bye-law,  there
      can be little doubt that the said Bye-laws would be justified  by  the
      general power conferred on the Boards by Section  298(1).  It  is  now
      well-settled that the specific provisions such as are contained in the
      several clauses of Section 298(2) are  merely  illustrative  and  they
      cannot be read as restrictive of the generality of  powers  prescribed
      by Section 298(1) (vide Emperor v. Sibnath  Banerji).  If  the  powers
      specified by Section 298(1) are very wide  and  they  take  in  within
      their scope Bye-laws like the ones with which we are concerned in  the
      present appeal, it cannot be said that  the  powers  enumerated  under
      Section 298(2) control the general words used by Section 298(1). These
      latter clauses merely illustrate and do not  exhaust  all  the  powers
      conferred on the Board, so that  any  cases  not  falling  within  the
      powers specified by Section 298(2) may well be  protected  by  Section
      298(1), provided, of course, the impugned Bye-law can be justified by-
      reference to the requirements of Section 298(1). There can be no doubt
      that the  impugned  Bye-laws  in  regard  to  the  markets  framed  by
      Respondent 2 are for the furtherance  of  municipal  administrate  ion
      under the Act, and so, would attract the provisions of Section 298(1).
      Therefore, we are satisfied that the High Court was right in coming to
      the conclusion that the impugned Bye-laws are valid.”


                                                         (emphasis supplied)



39.   In Rohtak Hissar District Electricity Supply Company Ltd. v. State  of
Uttar Pradesh and others AIR 1966 SC 1471, this Court dealt  with  the  rule
making power of the State Government  under  the  Uttar  Pradesh  Industrial
Disputes Act, 1947 and observed:

      “Section 15(1) confers wide powers on the  appropriate  Government  to
      make rules to carry out the purposes of the  Act;  and  Section  15(2)
      specifies some of the matters enumerated by clauses  (a)  to  (e),  in
      respect of which rules may be framed.  It  is  well-settled  that  the
      enumeration of the particular matters  by  sub-section  (2)  will  not
      control or limit the width of the power conferred on  the  appropriate
      Government by sub-section (1) of Section 15; and  so,  if  it  appears
      that the item added by the  appropriate  Government  has  relation  to
      conditions of employment, its addition cannot be challenged  as  being
      invalid in law.”

                                                         (emphasis supplied)


40.   In K. Ramanathan v. State of Tamil Nadu (supra), a  three-Judge  Bench
of this Court considered the scope of Section 3(1), (2)  and  Section  5  of
the  Essential  Commodities   Act,   1955.     The   appellant   and   other
agriculturists  of  Tanjavur  District  had  challenged  the  constitutional
validity of clause 3(1-a) of the Order  issued  by  the  Central  Government
under Section 5 read with Section 3 of the Essential Commodities  Act,  1955
placing complete ban on the transport, movement  or  otherwise  carrying  of
paddy outside the districts.  The High Court rejected  their  challenge  and
dismissed the writ petitions.  Before this Court, it  was  argued  that  the
delegation of power under Section 5 of the Act must necessarily be  given  a
restricted  interpretation.   While  rejecting  the  argument,  this   Court
referred to the judgment in Sibnath Banerji’s case, Santosh  Kumar  Jain  v.
State AIR 1951 SC 201 and observed:
      “Learned Counsel for the appellant however strenuously  contends  that
      the delegation of powers by the Central Government under Section 5  of
      the Act must necessarily be in relation to 'such matters' and  subject
      to 'such conditions' as may be  specified  in  the  notification.  The
      whole attempt on the part of the learned Counsel  is  to  confine  the
      scope and ambit of the impugned order to CL (d) of Sub-section (2)  of
      Section 3 of the Act which uses the word 'regulating' and take it  out
      of-the purview of Sub-section (1) of Section 3 which  uses  the  words
      'regulating or prohibiting'. That is not proper way of construction of
      Sub-section (1) and (2) of Section  3  of  the  Act  in  their  normal
      setting. The restricted construction of Section  3  contended  for  by
      learned Counsel for the appellant would render the scheme of  the  Act
      wholly unworkable as already indicated, the source of power to make an
      order of this description is Sub-section (1) of Section 3 of  the  Act
      and sub's. (2) merely provides illustration  for  the  general  powers
      conferred by Sub-section (1). Sub-section (2) of Section 3 of the  Act
      commences with the words 'Without prejudice to the generality  of  the
      powers conferred by Sub-section (1)'. It is manifest that  Sub-section
      (2) of Section 3 of the Act confers no  fresh  powers  but  is  merely
      illustrative of the general powers conferred  by  Sub-section  (1)  of
      Section 3 without exhausting the subjects in relation  to  which  such
      powers can be exercised.”




41.   The question was again considered in D.K. Trivedi and  Sons  v.  State
of Gujarat 1986 (Supp) SCC 20.  This Court was called upon  to  examine  the
challenge to the constitutionality of Section 15 of the Mines  and  Minerals
(Regulation and Development) Act, 1957, the power of the  State  Governments
to make rules under Section 15 to  enable  them  to  charge  dead  rent  and
royalty in respect of leases of mines and minerals granted to  them  and  to
enhance the rates of dead rent and royalty.   While repelling  the  argument
that the 1957 Act does not contain guidelines for exercise of power  by  the
State Government under Section 15(1), this Court observed:

      “32. There is no substance in the contention that  no  guidelines  are
      provided in the 1957 Act for the exercise of the rule-making power  of
      the State Governments  under  Section  15(1).  As  mentioned  earlier,
      Section 15(1) is in pari  materia  with  Section  13(1).  Section  13,
      however, contains  sub-section  (2)  which  sets  out  the  particular
      matters with respect to which the Central Government  may  make  rules
      “In particular,  and  without  prejudice  to  the  generality  of  the
      foregoing power”, that is, the rule-making  power  conferred  by  sub-
      section  (1).  It  is  well  settled  that  where  a  statute  confers
      particular powers without prejudice to the  generality  of  a  general
      power already conferred, the particular powers are  only  illustrative
      of the general power and do not in any way restrict the general power.
      Section 2 of the Defence of India Act, 1939, as amended by  Section  2
      of the Defence of India (Amendment)  Act,  1940,  conferred  upon  the
      Central Government the power to make such rules as appeared to it  “to
      be necessary or expedient for securing the defence of  British  India,
      the public safety, the maintenance of public order  or  the  efficient
      prosecution of war, or for maintaining supplies and services essential
      to the life of the community”. Sub-section (2) of Section 2  conferred
      upon the Central Government the  power  to  provide  by  rules  or  to
      empower any authority to make orders providing for various matters set
      out in the said sub-section. This power was expressed by  the  opening
      words of the said sub-section (2) to  be  “Without  prejudice  to  the
      generality of the  powers  conferred  by  sub-section  (1)”.  In  King
      Emperor v. Sibnath Banerji the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council
      held:


           “In the opinion of Their Lordships, the function of  sub-section
           (2) is merely an illustrative  one;  the  rule-making  power  is
           conferred by subsection (1), and ‘the rules’ which are  referred
           to in the opening sentence of  sub-section  (2)  are  the  rules
           which are authorized by, and made under,  sub-section  (1);  the
           provisions of sub-section (2) are not restrictive of sub-section
           (1), as, indeed, is  expressly  stated  by  the  words  ‘without
           prejudice to the generality of  the  powers  conferred  by  sub-
           section (1).”


      The above proposition of law has been approved and  accepted  by  this
      Court in Om Prakash v. Union of India (1970) 3 SCC 942 and Shiv Kirpal
      Singh v. V.V. Giri (1970) 2 SCC 567.


      33. A provision similar to sub-section (2)  of  Section  13,  however,
      does not find place in Section 15.  In  our  opinion,  this  makes  no
      difference. What sub-section  (2)  of  Section  13  does  is  to  give
      illustrations  of  the  matters  in  respect  of  which  the   Central
      Government can make rules for “regulating  the  grant  of  prospecting
      licences and mining leases in respect of  minerals  and  for  purposes
      connected therewith”. The opening clause of sub-section (2) of Section
      13, namely, “In particular, and without prejudice to the generality of
      the foregoing power”, makes it clear that the topics set out  in  that
      sub-section are already included in the general power conferred by sub-
      section (1) but are being listed to particularize them  and  to  focus
      attention on them. The particular matters  in  respect  of  which  the
      Central Government can make rules under sub-section (2) of Section  13
      are, therefore, also matters with respect to which  under  sub-section
      (1) of Section 15 the State Governments can make rules for “regulating
      the grant of quarry leases, mining leases or other mineral concessions
      in respect of minor minerals and for  purposes  connected  therewith”.
      When Section 14 directs that “The  provisions  of  Sections  4  to  13
      (inclusive) shall not apply to quarry leases, mining leases  or  other
      mineral concessions in respect of minor minerals”, what is intended is
      that the matters contained in those sections, so far as  they  concern
      minor minerals, will not be controlled by the Central  Government  but
      by the concerned State Government by exercising its rule-making  power
      as a delegate of the Central Government. Sections 4 to 12 form a group
      of sections under the heading  “General  restrictions  on  undertaking
      prospecting and mining operations”. The exclusion of  the  application
      of these sections to minor minerals means that these restrictions will
      not apply to  minor  minerals  but  that  it  is  left  to  the  State
      Governments to prescribe such restrictions as they think fit by  rules
      made under Section 15(1).  The  reason  for  treating  minor  minerals
      differently from minerals other than minor  minerals  is  obvious.  As
      seen from the definition of minor minerals  given  in  clause  (e)  of
      Section 3, they are minerals which are mostly used in local areas  and
      for local purposes while minerals other than minor minerals are  those
      which are necessary for industrial development on a national scale and
      for the economy of the country. That is why matters relating to  minor
      minerals have been left by Parliament to the State  Governments  while
      reserving matters relating to minerals other than  minor  minerals  to
      the Central Government. Sections 13, 14 and 15 fall in  the  group  of
      sections  which  is  headed  “Rules  for  regulating  the   grant   of
      prospecting licences and mining leases”. These three sections have  to
      be read together. In providing that  Section  13  will  not  apply  to
      quarry leases, mining leases or other mineral concessions  in  respect
      of minor minerals what was done was to  take  away  from  the  Central
      Government the power to make rules in respect of minor minerals and to
      confer that power by Section 15(1) upon  the  State  Governments.  The
      ambit of the power under Section 13 and under Section 15 is,  however,
      the same, the only difference being that in one case it is the Central
      Government which exercises the power in respect of minerals other than
      minor minerals while in the other case it  is  the  State  Governments
      which do so in respect of minor minerals. Sub-section (2)  of  Section
      13 which is illustrative of the general  power  conferred  by  Section
      13(1) contains sufficient guidelines  for  the  State  Governments  to
      follow in framing the rules under Section 15(1), and in the same  way,
      the State Governments have before  them  the  restrictions  and  other
      matters provided for in Sections 4 to 12 while framing their own rules
      under Section 15(1).”
                                                         (emphasis supplied)




42.   The same proposition has  been  reiterated  in  Academy  of  Nutrition
Improvement v. Union of India (2011) 8 SCC 274 [Para66] .  The  observations
contained in the last portion of that paragraph suggesting  that  the  power
conferred upon the rule making authority does not entitle it to  make  rules
beyond the scope of the Act has no bearing on these  cases  because  it  has
not been argued before us that the regulations framed under Section  36  are
ultra vires the provisions of the Act.
43.   Here  it  will  be  apposite  to  mention  that  Section  11(1)(b)(iv)
specifically postulates making of regulations for discharging the  functions
specified in those  clauses.  Section  11(2),  which  contains  non-obstante
clause vis-à-vis  the  Indian  Telegraph  Act,  1885,  lays  down  that  the
Authority may, from time to time, by order notify the  rates  at  which  the
telecommunication services within or outside India shall be  provided  under
the Act subject to the limitation specified in Section 11(3). Under  Section
12(1), the Authority is empowered to issue order and call upon  any  service
provider to furnish such information or explanation relating to  its  affair
or appoint one or more persons  to  make  an  inquiry  in  relation  to  the
affairs of any service provider  and  direct  inspection  of  the  books  of
account or other documents of any service provider. Sections  12(4)  and  13
of the Act on which reliance has been placed by the learned counsel for  the
respondents in support of their argument that  the  Authority  cannot  frame
regulations on the  subjects  mentioned  in  these  two  sections  are  only
enabling provisions.  This is evinced from the expressions “shall  have  the
power” used in Section 12(4) and “The Authority may”  used  in  Section  13.
In terms of Section 12(4),  the  Authority  can  issue  such  directions  to
service providers, as it may consider necessary, for proper  functioning  by
service providers.   Section  13  lays  down  that  the  Authority  may  for
discharge of its functions under Section 11(1),  issue  such  directions  to
the service providers, as it may consider  necessary.   The  scope  of  this
provision is limited by the proviso,  which  lays  down  that  no  direction
under Section 12(4)  or  Section  13  shall  be  issued  except  on  matters
specified in Section 11(1)(b).  It is thus clear that in  discharge  of  its
functions, the Authority can issue  directions  to  the  service  providers.
The Act speaks of many players like the licensors  and  users,  who  do  not
come within the ambit of the term “service provider”.  If the Authority  has
to discharge its functions qua the licensors or users, then it will have  to
use powers under provisions other than Sections 12(4)  and  13.   Therefore,
in  exercise  of  power  under  Section  36(1),  the  Authority   can   make
regulations which may empower it to issue directions  of  general  character
applicable to service providers and others and it cannot  be  said  that  by
making regulations under Section 36(1) the  Authority  has  encroached  upon
the field occupied by Sections 12(4) and 13 of the Act.
44.   Before parting with this aspect of the matter, we may notice  Sections
33 and 37.  A reading of the plain language of Section  33  makes  it  clear
that the Authority can, by general or special order, delegate to any  member
or officer of the Authority or any other  person  such  of  its  powers  and
functions under the Act except the power to settle  disputes  under  Chapter
IV or make regulations under Section 36.  This means that the power to  make
regulations under Section 36 is non-delegable.   The  reason  for  excluding
Section 36 from the purview of  Section  33  is  simple.   The  power  under
Section 36 is legislative  as  opposed  to  administrative.   By  virtue  of
Section 37, the regulations made under the Act are placed on  par  with  the
rules which can be framed by the Central Government  under  Section  35  and
being in the nature of subordinate legislations, the rules  and  regulations
have to be laid before both the Houses of  Parliament  which  can  annul  or
modify the same.  Thus, the regulations framed by the Authority can be  made
ineffective or modified by Parliament and by no other body.
45.   In view of the above discussion and the propositions laid down in  the
judgments referred to in the preceding paragraphs, we hold  that  the  power
vested in the Authority under Section 36(1) to make regulations is wide  and
pervasive. The exercise of this power is only subject to the  provisions  of
the Act and the Rules framed under Section 35 thereof.  There  is  no  other
limitation on the exercise of power by the Authority  under  Section  36(1).
It is not controlled or limited by Section 36(2) or Sections 11, 12 and  13.

46.   The second and more important facet of  the  question  framed  by  the
Court is whether TDSAT has the jurisdiction to entertain  challenge  to  the
regulations framed by the Authority.
47.   The learned Solicitor General referred to Articles 323A  and  323B  of
the Constitution, Section 14 of the Administrative Tribunals Act, 1985,  the
judgment of the larger Bench in L. Chandra Kumar v. Union of India (1997)  3
SCC 261 and argued that  whenever  Parliament  wishes  to  confer  power  of
judicial review on an adjudicatory body other than the  regular  Courts,  it
has enacted a provision like Section 14 of the 1985 Act.  He submitted  that
the language of Section 14 of the Act, which was enacted after 12  years  of
the enactment of the 1985 Act and was  amended  in  2000  does  not  empower
TDSAT to undertake  judicial  review  of  subordinate  legislation.  Learned
Solicitor General further argued that the words ‘direction’,  ‘decision’  or
‘order’ used in Section 14(b) should not be given over-stretched meaning  to
empower TDSAT to entertain challenge to the regulations made  under  Section
36 of the Act, which are  in  the  nature  of  subordinate  legislation.  He
emphasized that if these words are interpreted to  include  the  regulations
made under Section 36, the same  interpretation  would  hold  good  qua  the
rules framed under Section 35  because  they  are  also  in  the  nature  of
subordinate legislation. Learned Solicitor General submitted that  it  would
be an extremely anomalous position if the rules framed under Section 35  and
the regulations framed under Section 36  are  challenged  before  TDSAT  and
validity thereof is examined by a  Bench  comprising  non-judicial  members.
The learned Solicitor General relied upon the judgment of  the  Constitution
Bench in PTC India Ltd. v. Central Electricity Regulatory Commission  (2010)
4 SCC 603 and argued that even though in paragraph 94 of  the  judgment  the
Bench had observed that summary of findings  and  answer  to  the  reference
shall not be construed as a general  principle  of  law  to  be  applied  to
Appellate  Tribunals  vis-à-vis  Regulatory  Commissions  constituted  under
other enactments including the Act, the ratio of  the  judgment  is  clearly
attracted in  the  present  case.  He  submitted  that  Section  79  of  the
Electricity Act, 2003 (for short, ‘the 2003 Act’) does not  contain  Clauses
like 11(1)(b)(vii) and (viii) of the Act and provision  like  Section  36(2)
of the Act is not contained in the 2003 Act and further that Section 111  of
the  2003  Act  contains  only  the  word  ‘order’  as  against  the   words
‘direction’, ‘decision’ or ‘orders’  used  in  Section  14  but  that  these
differences are insignificant and there is no justification  to  ignore  the
ratio of the judgment of the  Constitution  Bench.  Shri  Nariman  submitted
that distinction sought to be made by the other side with reference  to  the
language of Sections 79, 111 and 178(2)(ze) of the Electricity Act, 2003  is
illusory because after noticing Section 121 which uses the  words  ‘orders’,
‘instructions’ or ‘directions’, the  Constitution  Bench  has  unequivocally
held that the said section does not confer power of judicial review  on  the
Appellate Tribunal.
48.   S/Shri A.S. Chandhiok, C.S.  Vaidyanathan,  Dr.  A.M.  Singhvi,  Ramji
Shrinivashan and Mukul Rohatgi,  learned  senior  counsel  relied  upon  the
judgment of the larger Bench in L. Chandra Kumar vs. Union of India  (supra)
and argued that every Tribunal constituted under an  Act  of  Parliament  or
State Legislature is empowered to exercise power of judicial review qua  the
rules and regulations. They also relied upon the judgments of this Court  in
Cellular Operators Assn. of India v. Union of India (2003) 3 SCC 186,  Hotel
& Restaurant Association v. Star India (P) Ltd. (2006) 13 SCC 753, Union  of
India v. TATA Teleservices (Maharashtra) Ltd. (2007) 7  SCC  517,  Union  of
India v. Association of Unified Telecom Service Providers  of  India  (2011)
10 SCC 543 and argued that the validity  of  the  regulations  framed  under
Section 36 can be examined by TDSAT and in appropriate cases  the  same  can
be struck down. They  further  argued  that  the  regulations  framed  under
Section 36 are essentially  in  the  nature  of  a  decision  taken  by  the
Authority and the same can always be subjected to  challenge  under  Section
14(b).  Learned senior  counsel  also  referred  to  order  dated  28.3.2006
passed by a  three-Judge  Bench  in  Civil  Appeal  No.6743/2003  –  Telecom
Regulatory Authority of India v. BPL Mobile Cellular Ltd.  and  argued  that
having taken the  stand  before  this  Court  that  a  ‘direction’  includes
‘regulation’, the Authority is estopped from adopting  a  different  posture
before this Court on the issue of maintainability of  appeal  under  Section
14(b) involving challenge to the regulations. Dr. Singhvi and  Shri  Rohatgi
argued that one of the objectives of the amendments  made  in  2000  was  to
create a specialised body  for  expeditious  adjudication  of  disputes  and
appeals and that objective will  be  totally  defeated  if  the  regulations
framed under Section 36 are excluded from the ambit of Section  14(b).  They
also relied upon the judgment of this Court in  Madras  Bar  Association  v.
Union of India  (2010)  11  SCC  1  and  argued  that  once  Parliament  has
conferred power of judicial review upon TDSAT, there is no valid  ground  to
whittle down  the scope thereof by giving a  restrictive  interpretation  to
Section 14(b) of the Act.
49.   Before dealing with the respective arguments, we may  revert  back  to
Section 14 (unamended and amended).  Under the unamended Section 14(1),  the
Authority could decide disputes among service providers and between  service
providers and a group of consumers.  In terms of Section 14(2)  (unamended),
the bench constituted by the  Chairperson  of  the  Authority  can  exercise
powers and authority which were exercisable earlier by the  Civil  Court  on
technical compatibility and  inter-connections  between  service  providers,
revenue sharing arrangements between different  service  providers,  quality
of telecommunication services  and  interest  of  consumers.   However,  the
disputes specified in clauses (a), (b) and (c) of Section  14(2)  could  not
be decided by the Bench constituted by the Chairperson.
50.   Since the mechanism provided for settlement of disputes under  Section
14 of the unamended Act was not satisfactory,  Parliament  substituted  that
section and facilitated establishment of an  independent  adjudicatory  body
known as TDSAT.  Clause (a) of amended Section 14 confers jurisdiction  upon
TDSAT to adjudicate any dispute between a  licensor  and  licensee,  between
two or more service providers and between a service provider and a group  of
consumers.  Three exceptions to the adjudicatory power of TDSAT  relates  to
the  cases  which  are  subject  to  the  jurisdiction  of  Monopolies   and
Restrictive Trade Practices  Commission,  the  complaint  of  an  individual
consumer which could be maintained under  the  consumer  forums  established
under the Consumer  Protection  Act,  1986  and  dispute  between  Telegraph
Authority and any other person referred to in Section 7B(1)  of  the  Indian
Telegraph Act, 1885.  In terms of clause (b) of Section 14 (amended),  TDSAT
is empowered to hear and dispose of appeal against any  direction,  decision
or order of the  Authority.   Section  14A(1)  provides  for  making  of  an
application to TDSAT for adjudication of any dispute referred to in  Section
14(a).  Section 14A(2) and (3) provides for filing  an  appeal  against  any
direction, decision or order made by the Authority and also  prescribes  the
period of limitation.  Sub-sections (4) to (7) of Section  14  are,  by  and
large,  procedural.   Section  14B  relates  to  composition  of   Appellate
Tribunal.   Section  14C  prescribes  qualifications  for  Chairperson   and
Members.  Section 14D speaks of tenure of the Chairperson  and  every  other
Member of TDSAT.  Section 14E speaks of terms  and  conditions  of  service.
Section 14F provides for filling up the vacancies.  Section 14G  deals  with
removal and resignation of Chairperson or any Member of TDSAT.  Section  14H
relates to staff of TDSAT.  Section 14I empowers  the  Chairperson  to  make
provisions of distribution of business of TDSAT  amongst  different  Benches
and their roster.  Section 14J empowers the Chairperson  to  transfer  cases
from one Bench to the other.  Section 14K lays down  that  decision  of  any
application or appeal  should  be  by  majority.   Section  14L  treats  the
Chairperson and Members etc. of TDSAT to be public servants.   Sections  14M
and 14N provide for transfer of pending cases and appeals.
51.    The  primary  objective  of  the  2000  amendment  was  to   separate
adjudicatory  functions  of  the  Authority  from  its  administrative   and
legislative functions and ward  off  the  criticism  that  the  one  who  is
empowered to make  regulations  and  issue  directions  or  pass  orders  is
clothed with the power to decide legality  thereof.   The  word  ‘direction’
used in Section 14(b) is referable to  Sections  12(4)  and  13.   The  word
‘order’ is referable to Section 11(2) and 12(1).  The  word  ‘decision’  has
been used in Section 14-A(2) and  (7).   This  is  because  the  proviso  to
Section 14-M postulates limited adjudicatory function of  the  Authority  in
respect of the disputes being adjudicated under Chapter IV before  the  2000
amendment.  This proviso was incorporated in Section 14-M to avoid a  hiatus
between the coming into force of the 2000 amendment  and  the  establishment
of TDSAT.
52.   None of the words used in Section  14(b)  have  anything  to  do  with
adjudication of disputes. Before the 2000 Amendment, the  applications  were
required to  be  filed  under  Section  15  which  also  contained  detailed
procedure for deciding the same. While sub-Section (2) of  Section  15  used
the  word  ‘orders’,  sub-Sections  (3)  and  (4)  thereof  used  the   word
‘decision’. In terms of sub-Section (5), the orders and  directions  of  the
Authority were treated as binding on the service providers,  Government  and
all other persons concerned. Section 18 provided for an appeal  against  any
decision or order of the Authority. Such an appeal  could  be  filed  before
the High Court. The amendment made in 2000 is intended to vest the  original
jurisdiction of the Authority in TDSAT and the same is achieved  by  Section
14(a). The appellate jurisdiction exercisable by  the  High  Court  is  also
vested in TDSAT by virtue  of  Section  14(b)  but  this  does  not  include
decision made by the Authority. Section 14-N provides for  transfer  to  all
appeals pending before the High Court to TDSAT and in terms  of  Clause  (b)
of sub-Section (2), TDSAT was required to proceed to deal  with  the  appeal
from the stage which was reached before such transfer or  from  any  earlier
stage or de novo as considered appropriate by it.  Since  High  Court  while
hearing appeal did not have the power  of  judicial  review  of  subordinate
legislation, the transferee adjudicatory forum, i.e., TDSAT cannot  exercise
that power under Section 14(b).
53.   In Cellular Operators Assn.  of  India  v.  Union  of  India  (supra),
Pattanaik, C.J., who authored  main  judgment  of  the  three  Judge  Bench,
referred to Section 14 and observed:

      “Suffice it to say, Chapter IV containing Section 14 was  inserted  by
      an amendment of the year 2002 and the very Statement  of  Objects  and
      Reasons would indicate that to increase the investors’ confidence  and
      to create a level playing field between the  public  and  the  private
      operators, suitable amendment in the Telecom Regulatory  Authority  of
      India Act, 1997 was brought about and under the amendment, a  tribunal
      was constituted called the Telecom Disputes Settlement  and  Appellate
      Tribunal for adjudicating  the  disputes  between  a  licensor  and  a
      licensee, between two or more service  providers,  between  a  service
      provider and a group of consumers and also  to  hear  and  dispose  of
      appeal against any direction, decision or order of the Authority.  The
      aforesaid provision was absolutely essential as the  organizations  of
      the licensor, namely, MTNL and BSNL were also service providers.  That
      being the object for which an independent  tribunal  was  constituted,
      the power of that Tribunal  has  to  be  adjudged  from  the  language
      conferring that power and it would not be appropriate to restrict  the
      same on the ground that the decision which is  the  subject-matter  of
      challenge before the Tribunal was that of an expert  body.  It  is  no
      doubt true, to which we will advert later, that the composition of the
      Telecom Regulatory Authority of India as well as the  constitution  of
      GOT-IT in April 2001 consists of a large number of  eminent  impartial
      experts and it is on their advice, the Prime Minister finally took the
      decision, but that would not in any way  restrict  the  power  of  the
      Appellate Tribunal under Section 14, even  though  in  the  matter  of
      appreciation the Tribunal would give due weight to such expert  advice
      and recommendations. Having regard to the very purpose and object  for
      which the Appellate Tribunal was constituted and having  examined  the
      different provisions contained in Chapter IV, more  particularly,  the
      provision dealing with ousting the jurisdiction of the civil court  in
      relation to any matter which the Appellate Tribunal is empowered by or
      under the Act, as contained in Section 15, we have  no  hesitation  in
      coming to the conclusion that the power of the Appellate  Tribunal  is
      quite wide, as has been  indicated  in  the  statute  itself  and  the
      decisions of this Court dealing with the power of a court,  exercising
      appellate power or  original  power,  will  have  no  application  for
      limiting the jurisdiction of the Appellate  Tribunal  under  the  Act.
      Since the Tribunal is the original authority to adjudicate any dispute
      between a licensor and a licensee  or  between  two  or  more  service
      providers or between a service provider and a group of  consumers  and
      since the Tribunal has to hear and  dispose  of  appeals  against  the
      directions, decisions or order of TRAI, it  is  difficult  for  us  to
      import the self-contained restrictions  and  limitations  of  a  court
      under the judge-made law to which reference has already been made  and
      reliance was placed by the learned Attorney-General.”

                                                         (emphasis supplied)



54.   In Union of India v. TATA  Teleservices  (Maharashtra)  Ltd.  (supra),
the two Judge Bench of this Court referred to the  scheme  of  the  Act  and
observed:

      “The conspectus of the provisions of the Act  clearly  indicates  that
      disputes between the licensee or licensor, between two or more service
      providers which takes in the Government and includes  a  licensee  and
      between a service provider and a group of  consumers  are  within  the
      purview of TDSAT. A plain reading of the relevant  provisions  of  the
      Act in the light of the Preamble  to  the  Act  and  the  Objects  and
      Reasons for enacting the Act,  indicates  that  disputes  between  the
      parties concerned, which would involve significant technical  aspects,
      are to be determined by a specialised tribunal  constituted  for  that
      purpose. There is also an ouster of jurisdiction of the civil court to
      entertain any suit or proceeding in respect of any matter which  TDSAT
      is empowered by or under the Act to determine. The  civil  court  also
      has no jurisdiction to grant an injunction in respect  of  any  action
      taken or to be taken in pursuance of any power conferred by  or  under
      the Act. The constitution of TDSAT itself indicates that it is chaired
      by a sitting or retired Judge of the Supreme Court  or  sitting  or  a
      retired Chief Justice of the High Court, one of the  highest  judicial
      officers in the hierarchy and the members thereof have to  be  of  the
      cadre of Secretaries to the Government, obviously well experienced  in
      administration and administrative matters.

      The Act is seen to be a self-contained code intended to deal with  all
      disputes arising out of telecommunication services  provided  in  this
      country in the light of the National Telecom  Policy,  1994.  This  is
      emphasised by the Objects and Reasons also.

      Normally, when a specialised tribunal is constituted for dealing  with
      disputes coming under it of a  particular  nature  taking  in  serious
      technical aspects, the attempt must be to  construe  the  jurisdiction
      conferred on it in a manner as not to frustrate the object  sought  to
      be  achieved  by  the  Act.  In  this  context,  the  ousting  of  the
      jurisdiction of the civil court contained in Section 15 and Section 27
      of the Act has also to be kept in mind. The subject to be  dealt  with
      under the Act has considerable technical overtones  which  normally  a
      civil court, at least as of now, is ill equipped to  handle  and  this
      aspect cannot be ignored while defining the jurisdiction of TDSAT.”

55.   In the aforementioned judgments, this Court has laid emphasis  on  the
scope of the jurisdiction of TDSAT but  has  not  dealt  with  the  question
whether the words ‘direction’, ‘decision’ or ‘order’  include  ‘regulations’
framed under Section 36 of the Act  and  the  same  could  be  subjected  to
appellate jurisdiction  of  TDSAT.  Therefore,  those  judgments  cannot  be
relied upon for holding that in exercise of power  under  Section  14(b)  of
the Act TDSAT can hear an appeal against regulations  framed  under  Section
36.
56.   We may now deal with the  judgment  of  three  Judge  Bench  in  Civil
Appeal No.6743/2003 – Telecom Regulatory Authority of India  v.  BPL  Mobile
Cellular Ltd. is clearly distinguishable. The facts of that case  were  that
in May, 2001 respondent No.1 offered a scheme as a promotional plan  to  its
customers. Several thousand subscribers accepted  the  offer.   In  October,
2001 the scheme was dropped. A public interest litigation was filed  by  one
subscriber challenging the unilateral dropping of the scheme  by  respondent
No.1. The High Court passed an order and directed the appellant to submit  a
report in that connection. No report having been submitted, by a  subsequent
order dated 24.9.2002, the High Court directed the appellant to  take  steps
after hearing the parties and submit a report of compliance within a  period
of three months from the date of the order. Pursuant to this  directive  the
appellant  passed  an  order  on  23.12.2002  holding,  inter   alia,   that
respondent No.1 had violated the provisions of the Telecommunication  Tariff
Order, 1999 insofar as it had failed to inform the appellant  either  as  to
the introduction of the scheme  or  subsequent  withdrawal  hereof.  It  was
found that  the  action  of  respondent  No.l  had  adversely  affected  the
interest  of  the  subscribers.  Finally  the  appellant  opined  that   the
violation was of serious nature and to be  dealt  with  in  accordance  with
Section 29 read with Section 34 of the  Act.  Thereafter,  a  complaint  was
lodged before  the  jurisdictional  Magistrate.  Respondent  No.1  filed  an
appeal against order dated 23.12.2002. TDSAT allowed  the  appeal  and  held
that Section 29 could not be invoked for any violation of  an  order  issued
by the appellant. This Court referred to Sections 29 and 34  and  formulated
the following question:

      “Whether the word ‘directions’  would  include  the  Telecommunication
      Tariff Order, 1999 (hereinafter referred to as the  ‘Order’)  so  that
      any violation thereof would be punishable under Section 29  read  with
      Section 34.”



The  Court  then  referred  to  Sections  11(1)(c),  11(2),  12(4),  13  and
observed:

      “The order which has been passed in 1999 has in  fact  sought  to  and
      ensures compliance of the terms and conditions of the licence  granted
      by the Government of India to the respondent.

      It   appears   to   us   on   a   reading   of   all these  provisions
      that the word 'directions' had been used in  a  wide  sense  to  cover
      orders/regulations which in effect direct an action  to  be  taken  we
      were to limit Section 29 only to directions which were  not  directory
      orders or/directory regulations this would mean that violation of such
      orders/regulations would not carry any penal  consequence  whatsoever.
      Consequently, the entire scheme of the Act  would  become  unworkable.
      Besides Section 11(1)(b) in respect of which directions may be  issued
      has itself also been widely  framed.  Indeed  the  order  in  question
      pertains to the provisions of Section 11(1)(b)(i) as we  have  already
      stated. It may be that Section 29 creates an  offence  and  therefore,
      must  be  strictly    construed.  However,  that  principle  will  not
      militate with the principle that the interpretation of a word must  be
      made contextually.  We have to  ascertain  the  meaning  of  the  word
      'directions' in Section 29.  The word 'directions' can take within its
      fold directory orders and regulations in the nature of directions as a
      matter of semantics.  Besides in the context of the Act  there  is  no
      reason not to include the orders and regulations containing directions
      within the word 'directions.' This would also be a  logical  corollary
      as such regulations and orders have appended to them  a  more  serious
      mandate.”

57.   From the above extracted portion of the order it is evident  that  the
Bench, which decided the matter, felt that the view  taken  by  TDSAT  would
encourage rampant violation of the orders without any penal consequence  and
the  entire  scheme  of  the  Act  would  become   unworkable.    The   word
‘directions’ used in Section 29  of  the  Act  was  interpreted  to  include
orders and regulations in the context of the factual  matrix  of  that  case
and the apprehension of the Court that Section  29  would  otherwise  become
unworkable, but the same cannot be read as laying down a proposition of  law
that the words ‘direction’, ‘decision’ or  ‘order’  used  in  Section  14(b)
would include regulation framed under Section 36, which are  in  the  nature
of subordinate legislation.
58.   In  PTC  India  Ltd.  v.  Central  Electricity  Regulatory  Commission
(surpa), the Constitution Bench framed the following questions:

      “(i) Whether the Appellate Tribunal constituted under the  Electricity
      Act, 2003 (the 2003 Act) has jurisdiction under Section 111 to examine
      the  validity  of  the  Central  Electricity   Regulatory   Commission
      (Fixation of Trading Margin) Regulations, 2006 framed in  exercise  of
      power conferred under Section 178 of the 2003 Act?

      (ii) Whether Parliament has conferred power of judicial review on  the
      Appellate Tribunal for Electricity under Section 121 of the 2003 Act?

      (iii) Whether capping of trading margins could be done  by  CERC  (the
      Central Commission) by  making  a  regulation  in  that  regard  under
      Section 178 of the 2003 Act?”


59.   The Constitution Bench extensively referred to the provisions  of  the
Electricity Act, 2003 including Sections 73, 75,  79,  86,  111,  177,  178,
179, 181 and 182, and observed:

      “47. On the above submissions, one of the questions which  arises  for
      determination is—whether trading margin fixation  (including  capping)
      under the 2003 Act can only be done by an order under Section 79(1)(j)
      and  not  by  regulations  under  Section  178?   According   to   the
      appellant(s) it can only be done by an order under  Section  79(1)(j),
      particularly when under Section 178(2) power to make regulations is co-
      relatable to the functions ascribed to each authority under  the  said
      2003 Act.

      48. In every case one  needs  to  examine  the  statutory  context  to
      determine  whether  a  court  or  a  tribunal  hearing  a   case   has
      jurisdiction to rule on a defence based upon arguments  of  invalidity
      of subordinate legislation or administrative act under it.  There  are
      situations  in  which  Parliament  may  legislate  to  preclude   such
      challenges in the interest of promoting certainty about the legitimacy
      of administrative acts on which the public may have to rely.

      49. On the above analysis of various sections of the 2003 Act, we find
      that the decision-making  and  regulation-making  functions  are  both
      assigned  to  CERC.  Law  comes  into  existence  not   only   through
      legislation but also by regulation and litigation. Laws from all three
      sources are binding. According to Professor Wade, “between legislative
      and  administrative  functions  we  have  regulatory   functions”.   A
      statutory instrument, such as a rule or regulation, emanates from  the
      exercise  of  delegated  legislative  power  which  is   a   part   of
      administrative process resembling enactment of law by the  legislature
      whereas a quasi-judicial order comes from adjudication which is also a
      part of administrative process resembling a  judicial  decision  by  a
      court of law.

      50. Applying  the  above  test,  price  fixation  exercise  is  really
      legislative in character, unless by the terms of a particular  statute
      it is made quasi-judicial as in the  case  of  tariff  fixation  under
      Section 62 made appealable under Section 111 of the 2003  Act,  though
      Section 61 is an enabling provision for the framing of regulations  by
      CERC. If one takes “tariff” as a subject-matter, one finds that  under
      Part VII of the 2003 Act actual determination/fixation  of  tariff  is
      done by the appropriate Commission under Section 62 whereas Section 61
      is the  enabling  provision  for  framing  of  regulations  containing
      generic  propositions  in  accordance  with  which   the   appropriate
      Commission has to fix the tariff. This basic scheme equally applies to
      the subject-matter “trading margin” in a different  statutory  context
      as will be demonstrated by discussion hereinbelow.”



The Bench then referred to the judgments in Narinder Chand Hem  Raj  v.  Lt.
Governor, H.P. (1971) 2 SCC 747 and Indian Express Newspapers  (Bombay)  (P)
Ltd. v. Union of India (1985) 1 SCC 641 and held:

      “53. Applying the abovementioned tests to the scheme of the 2003  Act,
      we find that under the Act, the  Central  Commission  is  a  decision-
      making as well as regulation-making authority, simultaneously. Section
      79 delineates the functions of the Central Commission broadly into two
      categories—mandatory  functions   and   advisory   functions.   Tariff
      regulation,  licensing  (including  inter-State  trading   licensing),
      adjudication  upon  disputes   involving   generating   companies   or
      transmission licensees  fall  under  the  head  “mandatory  functions”
      whereas advising the Central Government  on  formulation  of  National
      Electricity Policy  and  tariff  policy  would  fall  under  the  head
      “advisory functions”. In this sense, the  Central  Commission  is  the
      decision-making authority. Such decision-making under Section 79(1) is
      not dependent upon making of regulations  under  Section  178  by  the
      Central Commission. Therefore, functions  of  the  Central  Commission
      enumerated in Section 79 are separate and distinct from  functions  of
      the  Central  Commission   under   Section   178.   The   former   are
      administrative/adjudicatory   functions   whereas   the   latter   are
      legislative.

      54. As stated above, the 2003 Act has been enacted in  furtherance  of
      the policy envisaged under the Electricity Regulatory Commissions Act,
      1998 as it mandates establishment of an  independent  and  transparent
      Regulatory Commission entrusted with wide-ranging responsibilities and
      objectives  inter  alia  including  protection  of  the  consumers  of
      electricity. Accordingly, the  Central  Commission  is  set  up  under
      Section 76(1) to exercise the powers conferred on, and in discharge of
      the functions assigned to, it under the Act. On reading Sections 76(1)
      and 79(1) one finds that the Central Commission is empowered  to  take
      measures/steps in discharge of the  functions  enumerated  in  Section
      79(1) like to regulate the tariff of generating companies, to regulate
      the inter-State transmission of electricity, to determine  tariff  for
      inter-State  transmission  of  electricity,  to  issue  licences,   to
      adjudicate upon disputes, to levy fees, to specify the Grid  Code,  to
      fix the trading margin  in  inter-State  trading  of  electricity,  if
      considered  necessary,  etc.  These  measures,   which   the   Central
      Commission is empowered to take, have got to be in conformity with the
      regulations  under  Section  178,  wherever   such   regulations   are
      applicable. Measures under Section 79(1), therefore, have got to be in
      conformity with the regulations under Section 178.

      55. To regulate is an exercise which is different from making  of  the
      regulations. However, making of a regulation under Section 178 is  not
      a precondition to the Central  Commission  taking  any  steps/measures
      under Section 79(1). As stated, if there is  a  regulation,  then  the
      measure under  Section  79(1)  has  to  be  in  conformity  with  such
      regulation under  Section  178.  This  principle  flows  from  various
      judgments of this Court  which  we  have  discussed  hereinafter.  For
      example, under Section 79(1)(g) the Central Commission is required  to
      levy fees  for  the  purpose  of  the  2003  Act.  An  order  imposing
      regulatory fees could be passed even in the absence  of  a  regulation
      under Section 178. If the  levy  is  unreasonable,  it  could  be  the
      subject-matter of  challenge  before  the  appellate  authority  under
      Section 111  as  the  levy  is  imposed  by  an  order/decision-making
      process.  Making  of  a  regulation  under  Section  178  is   not   a
      precondition to passing of an order levying  a  regulatory  fee  under
      Section 79(1)(g). However, if there is a regulation under Section  178
      in that regard then the order levying fees under Section 79(1)(g)  has
      to be in consonance with such regulation.”




The Constitution Bench then considered the question whether Section  121  of
the Electricity Act, 2003 can  be  read  as  conferring  power  of  judicial
review upon the Appellate Tribunal. The Bench referred to  the  judgment  in
Raman and Raman Ltd. v. State of Madras AIR 1959 SC 694 and observed:

      “83. Applying the tests laid down in the above judgment to the present
      case, we are of the view that, the words “orders”,  “instructions”  or
      “directions” in Section 121 do not confer power of judicial review  in
      the Tribunal. It is not possible to lay down any  exhaustive  list  of
      cases in which there is failure in performance of statutory  functions
      by the appropriate Commission. However, by way  of  illustrations,  we
      may state that, under Section 79(1)(h) CERC is required to specify the
      Grid Code having regard to the Grid Standards.  Section  79  comes  in
      Part X. Section 79 deals with functions of CERC. The  word  “grid”  is
      defined in Section 2(32) to  mean  high  voltage  backbone  system  of
      interconnected transmission lines, sub-stations and generating plants.
      Basically, a grid is a network. Section 2(33) defines “Grid  Code”  to
      mean a code specified by CERC under Section  79(1)(h).  Section  2(34)
      defines “Grid Standards” to mean  standards  specified  under  Section
      73(d) by the Authority.

      84. Grid Code is a set of rules which governs the maintenance  of  the
      network. This maintenance is vital. In summer  months  grids  tend  to
      trip. In the absence of the making of the Grid Code in accordance with
      the Grid Standards, it is open to  the  Tribunal  to  direct  CERC  to
      perform its statutory functions of specifying  the  Grid  Code  having
      regard to the Grid Standards prescribed by the Authority under Section
      73. One can multiply these illustrations which exercise we do not wish
      to undertake. Suffice it to state that, in the light of  our  analysis
      of the 2003 Act,  hereinabove,  the  words  “orders,  instructions  or
      directions” in Section 121 of the 2003  Act  cannot  confer  power  of
      judicial review under Section 121 to the Tribunal,  which,  therefore,
      cannot go into the validity  of  the  impugned  2006  Regulations,  as
      rightly held in the impugned judgment.”


60.   The summary of the findings of the Constitution  Bench  are  contained
in paragraph 92, which is reproduced below:

      “92. (i) In the hierarchy of regulatory powers and functions under the
      2003 Act, Section 178, which deals with making of regulations  by  the
      Central Commission, under the authority of subordinate legislation, is
      wider than Section  79(1)  of  the  2003  Act,  which  enumerates  the
      regulatory functions of the Central Commission, in specified areas, to
      be discharged by orders (decisions).

      (ii)  A  regulation  under  Section  178,  as  a  part  of  regulatory
      framework,  intervenes  and  even  overrides  the  existing  contracts
      between the regulated  entities  inasmuch  as  it  casts  a  statutory
      obligation on the regulated  entities  to  align  their  existing  and
      future contracts with the said regulation.

      (iii) A regulation under Section 178 is made under  the  authority  of
      delegated legislation and consequently its validity can be tested only
      in judicial review proceedings before the courts and  not  by  way  of
      appeal before the Appellate Tribunal for Electricity under Section 111
      of the said Act.

      (iv) Section 121 of the 2003 Act does not  confer  power  of  judicial
      review on the Appellate Tribunal. The words  “orders”,  “instructions”
      or “directions” in Section 121 do not confer power of judicial  review
      in the Appellate Tribunal for Electricity. In this judgment, we do not
      wish to  analyse  the  English  authorities  as  we  find  from  those
      authorities that in certain cases in England  the  power  of  judicial
      review is expressly conferred on the tribunals constituted  under  the
      Act. In the present 2003 Act, the power  of  judicial  review  of  the
      validity of the regulations made under Section 178 is not conferred on
      the Appellate Tribunal for Electricity.

      (v) If a  dispute  arises  in  adjudication  on  interpretation  of  a
      regulation made under Section  178,  an  appeal  would  certainly  lie
      before the Appellate Tribunal under Section 111, however, no appeal to
      the Appellate Tribunal shall lie on the validity of a regulation  made
      under Section 178.

      (vi) Applying the principle of  “generality  versus  enumeration”,  it
      would be open to the Central Commission to make a  regulation  on  any
      residuary item under Section  178(1)  read  with  Section  178(2)(ze).
      Accordingly, we hold that CERC was empowered to cap the trading margin
      under the authority of delegated legislation under  Section  178  vide
      the impugned Notification dated 23-1-2006.

      (vii) Section 121, as amended by the Electricity (Amendment) Act 57 of
      2003, came into force with effect from 27-1-2004. Consequently,  there
      is no merit in the contention advanced that the said section  has  not
      yet been brought into force.”

61.   In our  view,  even  though  in  paragraph  94  of  the  judgment  the
Constitution Bench clarified that the judgment will  not  govern  the  cases
under the Act, the ratio of that judgment  is  clearly  attracted  in  these
cases.
62.   The judgments of the larger Bench in L.  Chandra  Kumar  v.  Union  of
India (supra) and Union of India v. Madras Bar Association (2010) 11  SCC  1
are clearly  distinguishable.   In  L.  Chandra  Kumar’s  case,  this  Court
considered the scope of Section 14 of the 1985 Act, which reads as under:
      “14. Jurisdiction, powers and authority of the Central  Administrative
      Tribunal.- (1) Save as otherwise expressly provided in this  Act,  the
      Central Administrative  Tribunal  shall  exercise,  on  and  from  the
      appointed day, all the jurisdiction, powers and authority  exercisable
      immediately before that day by all courts except the Supreme Court  in
      relation to-

      (a) recruitment, and matters concerning recruitment, to any  All-India
      Service or to any civil service of the Union or a civil post under the
      Union or to a post connected with defence or in the defence  services,
      being, in either case, a post filled by a civilian;

      (b) all service matters concerning-

      (i) a member of any All-India Service; or

      (ii) a person not being a member of an All-India Service or  a  person
      referred to in clause (c) appointed to any civil service of the  Union
      or any civil post under the Union; or

      (iii) a civilian not being a member  of  an  All-India  Service  or  a
      person referred to in clause (c) appointed to any defence, services or
      a post connected with defence,

      and pertaining to the service of such member, person or  civilian,  in
      connection with the affairs of the Union or of any  State  or  of  any
      local or other authority within the territory of India  or  under  the
      control of the Government of India or of any  corporation  or  society
      owned or controlled by the Government;

      (c) all service matters pertaining to service in connection  with  the
      affairs of the Union concerning a person appointed to any  service  or
      post referred to in sub-clause (ii) or sub-clause (iii) of clause (b),
      being a person whose services have been placed by a  State  Government
      or any local or other authority or any corporation or society or other
      body, at the disposal of the Central Government for such appointment.

      Explanation.- For the removal of doubts, it is  hereby  declared  that
      references to "Union"  in  this  sub-section  shall  be  construed  as
      including references also to a Union territory.

      (2) The Central Government may, by  notification,  apply  with  effect
      from such date as may be specified in the notification the  provisions
      of sub-section (3) to local or other authorities within the  territory
      of India or under the control  of  the  Government  of  India  and  to
      corporations or societies owned or controlled by Government, not being
      a local or other authority or corporation  or  society  controlled  or
      owned by a State Government:

      Provided that if the Central Government considers it expedient  so  to
      do for the  purpose  of  facilitating  transition  to  the  scheme  as
      envisaged by this Act, different dates may be so specified under  this
      sub-  section  in  respect  of  different  classes  of,  or  different
      categories  under  any  class  of,  local  or  other  authorities   or
      corporations or societies.

      (3) Save as otherwise expressly provided  in  this  Act,  the  Central
      Administrative Tribunal shall also exercise, on and from the date with
      effect from which the provisions of this sub-  section  apply  to  any
      local  or  other  authority  or  corporation  or  society,   all   the
      jurisdiction, powers and authority exercisable immediately before that
      date by all courts (except the Supreme Court) in relation to--

      (a) recruitment, and matters concerning recruitment, to any service or
      post in connection with the affairs of such local or  other  authority
      or corporation or society; and

      (b) all service matters  concerning  a  person  other  than  a  person
      referred to in clause (a) or clause (b) of sub- section (1)  appointed
      to any service or post in connection with the affairs of such local or
      other authority or  corporation  or  society  and  pertaining  to  the
      service of such person in connection with such affairs.”



The larger Bench then dealt with the scope of the power of  judicial  review
vested in the Supreme Court and the High Courts and proceeded to observe:

      “Before moving on to other aspects, we may summarise  our  conclusions
      on the jurisdictional powers of these  Tribunals.  The  Tribunals  are
      competent to hear matters where the vires of statutory provisions  are
      questioned. However, in discharging this  duty,  they  cannot  act  as
      substitutes for the High Courts and  the  Supreme  Court  which  have,
      under our constitutional set-up, been specifically entrusted with such
      an obligation. Their function in this respect  is  only  supplementary
      and all such decisions of the Tribunals will be  subject  to  scrutiny
      before a Division Bench of the respective High Courts.  The  Tribunals
      will consequently also have the power to test the vires of subordinate
      legislations and rules. However, this power of the Tribunals  will  be
      subject to one important exception. The Tribunals shall not  entertain
      any question regarding the vires of their  parent  statutes  following
      the settled principle that a Tribunal which is a creature  of  an  Act
      cannot declare that very Act to be  unconstitutional.  In  such  cases
      alone, the High Court concerned may be approached directly. All  other
      decisions  of  these  Tribunals,  rendered  in  cases  that  they  are
      specifically empowered to adjudicate upon by virtue  of  their  parent
      statutes, will also be subject to scrutiny before a Division Bench  of
      their respective High Courts. We may  add  that  the  Tribunals  will,
      however, continue to act as the  only  courts  of  first  instance  in
      respect of the areas of law for which they have been  constituted.  By
      this, we mean that it will not  be  open  for  litigants  to  directly
      approach the High Courts even in cases where they question  the  vires
      of statutory legislations (except, as mentioned, where the legislation
      which creates the particular Tribunal is  challenged)  by  overlooking
      the jurisdiction of the Tribunal concerned.”



63.   In Union of India v. Madras  Bar  Association  (supra)  and  State  of
Gujarat v. Gujarat Revenue Tribunal Bar Association  (2012)  10  SCC  353  :
2012 (10) SCALE 285, this Court applied  the  principles  laid  down  in  L.
Chandra Kumar’s case and reiterated the importance of Tribunals created  for
resolution of disputes but these  judgments  too  have  no  bearing  on  the
decision of the question formulated before us.

64.   In the result, the question framed by the Court  is  answered  in  the
following terms:
       In exercise of the power vested in it  under  Section  14(b)  of  the
      Act, TDSAT does not have the jurisdiction to entertain  the  challenge
      to the regulations framed by the Authority under  Section  36  of  the
      Act.

65.   As a corollary, we hold that the contrary view taken by TDSAT and  the
Delhi High Court does not represent correct law.  At the same time, we  make
it clear that the aggrieved person shall be free to challenge  the  validity
of the regulations framed under Section 36 of the Act by filing  appropriate
petition before the High Court.
66.   The cases may now be listed before an appropriate Bench  for  deciding
the questions framed vide  order  dated  6.2.2007  passed  in  Civil  Appeal
No.3298/2005 and some of the connected matters.


............................................................................
......J.
                             (G.S. SINGHVI)



............................................................................
.....J.
                             (B.S. CHAUHAN)



............................................................................
.......J.
                 (FAKKIR MOHAMED IBRAHIM KALIFULLA)

New Delhi
December 6, 2013.




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