DoT panel recommends slab-based penalties for telecom violations

TelecommunicationsA Department of Telecommunications (DoT) panel has recommended a slab-based structure with monetary fines for violations committed by telecom operators.

Monetary fines recommended by the DoT panel ranges from Rs 1 lakh to Rs 50 crore. It also suggested that violations by telecom operators should be examined on nine parameters and clubbed in five categories.

Warnings over certain violations can cost Rs 1 lakh to telecom operators, while minor violations will welcome a penalty of Rs 1 crore. Moderate, major and severe violations will cost Rs 5 crore, Rs 20 crore and Rs 50 crore, respectively.

The government wants to rationalise the penalty structure for telecom operators so that an operators is not fined Rs 50 crore for a small violation.

DoT Secretary M F Farooqui said, "The idea is to rationalise the penalty structure so the fee is decided based on the pattern of violation."

The panel was formed and asked to give its recommendations on the matter after Communications & Information Technology Minister Kapil Sibal asked for the same. Over the past few years, some telecom operators complained that they were fined as high as Rs 50 crore even for minor violations.

In April 2012, The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) had recommended classification of penalties into two categories - minor and major. It had recommended imposition of a maximum penalty of up to Rs 25 lakh for a minor violation and up to Rs 10 crore for a major violation. But, those recommendations were not approved by the Telecom Commission.