THE TELECOM REGULATORY AUTHORITY OF INDIA ACT, 1997
[Act, No. 24 of 1997]
[28th March, 1997]
An Act to provide for the establishment of the1[Telecom Regulatory Authority of India and the Telecom Disputes Settlement and Appellate Tribunal to regulate the 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.
BE it enacted by Parliament in the Forty-eighth Year of the Republic of India as follows:-
|1. Substituted by Act 2 of 2000, section 2, for "Telecom, Regulatory Authority of India to regulate the telecommunication services," (w.r.e.f. 24-1-2000).|
Section 1. Short title, extent and commencement
(1) This Act may be called the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India Act, 1997.
(2) It extends to the whole of India.
(3) It shall be deemed to have come into force on the 25th day of January, 1997.
Section 2. Definitions
(1) In this Act, unless the context otherwise requires,-
(a) "appointed day" means the date with effect from which the Authority is established under sub-section (1) of section 3;
1 [(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;
(c) "Chairperson" means the Chairperson of the Authority appointed under sub-section (3) of section 3;
(d) "Fund" means the Fund constituted under sub-section (1) of section 22;
(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;
2 [(ea) "licensor" means the Central Government or the telegraph authority who grants a licence under section 4 of the Indian Telegraph Act, 1885 (13 of 1885);]
(f) "member" means a member of the Authority appointed under subsection (3) of section 3 and includes the Chairperson and the Vice-Chairperson;
(g) "notification" means a notification published in the Official Gazette;
(h) "prescribed" means prescribed by rules made under this Act;
(i) "regulations" means regulations made by the Authority under this Act;
(j) "service provider" means the 3 [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 electromagnetic means but shall not include broadcasting services:
2 [Provided that the Central Government may notify other service to be telecommunication service including broadcasting services.]
(2) Words and expressions used and not defined in this Act but defined in the Indian Telegraph Act, 1885 (13 of 1885) or the Indian Wireless Telegraphy Act, 1933 (17 of 1933) shall have the meanings respectively assigned to them in those Acts.
(3) Any reference in this Act to a law which is not in force in the State of Jammu and Kashmir shall in relation to that State be construed as a reference to the corresponding law, if any, in that State.
|1. Substituted by Act 2 of 2000, section 2, for "Telecom, Regulatory Authority of India to regulate the telecommunication services," w.r.e.f. 24-1-2000.|
2. Inserted by Act 2 of 2000, section 3 (w.r.e.f. 24-1-2000).
3. Substituted by Act 2 of 2000, section 3, for "Government" (w.r.e.f. 24-1-2000).
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 contract, and shall, by the said name, sue or be sued.
1[(3) The Authority shall consist of a Chairperson, and not more than two whole-time members and not more than two part-time members, to be appointed by the Central Government.]
(4) The head office of the Authority shall be at New Delhi.
|1. Substituted by Act 2 of 2000, section 4, for sub-section (3) (w.r.e.f. 24-1-2000).|
Section 4. Qualifications for appointment of Chairperson and other members
1[4. Qualifications for appointment of Chairperson and other members
The Chairperson and other members of the Authority shall be appointed by the Central Government from amongst persons who have special knowledge of, and professional experience in, telecommunication, industry, finance, accountancy, law, management or consumer affairs:
Provided that a person who is, or has been, in the service of Government shall not be appointed as a member unless such person has held the post of Secretary or Additional Secretary, or the post of Additional Secretary and Secretary to the Government of India or any equivalent post in the Central Government or the State Government for a period of not less than three years.]
|1. Substituted by Act 2 of 2000, section 5, for section 4 (w.r.e.f. 24-1-2000).|
Section 5. Term of office, conditions of service, etc., of Chairperson and other members
(1) Before appointing any person as the Chairperson or member, the Central Government shall satisfy itself that the person does not have any such financial or other interest as is likely to affect prejudicially his functions as such member.
1 [(2) The Chairperson and other members shall hold office for a term not exceeding three years, as the Central Government may notify in this behalf, from the date on which they enter upon their offices or until they attain the age of sixty-five years, whichever is earlier.
(3) On the commencement of the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Amendment) Act, 2000, a person appointed as Chairperson of the Authority and every other person appointed as member and holding office as such immediately before such commencement shall vacate their respective offices and such Chairperson and such other members shall be entitled to claim compensation not exceeding three months pay and allowances for the premature termination of the term of their offices or of any contract of service.]
(4) The employee of the Government on his 2 [selection as the Chairperson or whole-time member] shall have to retire from service before 3 [joining as the Chairperson or a whole-time member].
(5) The salary and allowances payable to and the other terms and conditions of service of the Chairperson and 4 [whole-time members] shall be such as may be prescribed.
(6) The salary, allowances and other conditions of service of the Chairperson or of a member shall not be varied to his disadvantage after appointment.
5 [(6A) The part-time members shall receive such allowances as may be prescribed.]
(7) Notwithstanding anything contained in sub-section (2) 6 [***], a member may-
(a) relinquish his office by giving in writing to the Central Government notice of not less than three months; or
(b) be removed from his office in accordance with the provisions of section 7.
(8) The Chairperson or any 7 [whole-time member] ceasing to hold office as such, shall-
(a) be ineligible for further employment under the Central Government or any State Government; or
(b) not accept any commercial employment, for a period of 8 [one year] from the date he ceases to hold such office:
5 [Provided that nothing contained in this sub-section shall apply to the Chairperson or a member who has ceased to hold office under sub-section (3) and such Chairperson or member shall be eligible for re-appointment in the Authority or appointment in the Appellate Tribunal.]
(9) A vacancy caused to the office of the Chairperson or any other member shall be filled up within a period of three months from the date on which such vacancy occurs.
Explanation.-For the purpose of this section, "commercial employment" means employment in any capacity under, or agency of, a person engaged in trading, commercial, industrial or financial business in any field and includes also a director of a company or partner of a firm and it also includes setting up practice either independently or as partner of a firm or as an adviser or a consultant.
|1. Substituted by Act 2 of 2000, section 6, for sub-sections (2) and (3) (w.r.e.f. 24-1-2000).|
2. Substituted by Act 2 of 2000, section 6, for "selection as member" (w.r.e.f. 24-1-2000).
3. Substituted by Act 2 of 2000, section 6, for "joining as member" (w.r.e.f. 24-1-2000).
4. Substituted by Act 2 of 2000, section 6, for "other members" (w.r.e.f. 24-1-2000).
5. Inserted by Act 2 of 2000, section 6 (w.r.e.f. 24-1-2000).
6. The words "or sub-section (3)" omitted by Act 2 of 2000, section 6 (w.r.e.f. 24-1-2000).
7. Substituted by Act 2 of 2000, section 6, for "other member" (w.r.e.f. 24-1-2000).
8. Substituted by Act 2 of 2000, section 6, for "two years" (w.r.e.f. 24-1-2000).
Section 6. Powers of Chairperson and Vice-Chairperson
(1) The Chairperson shall have powers of general superintendence and directions in the conduct of the affairs of the Authority and he shall, in addition to presiding over the meetings of the Authority, exercise and discharge such powers and functions of the Authority and shall discharge such other powers and functions as may be prescribed.
(2) The Central Government may appoint one of the members to be a Vice-Chairperson of the Authority who shall exercise and discharge such powers and functions of the Chairperson as may be prescribed or as may be delegated to him by the Authority.
Section 7. Removal and suspension of member from office in certain circumstances
(1) The Central Government may remove from office any member, who,-
(a) has been adjudged an insolvent; or
(b) has been convicted of an offence which, in the opinion of the Central Government, involves moral turpitude; or
(c) has become physically or mentally incapable of acting as a member; or
(d) has acquired such financial or other interest as is likely to affect prejudicially his functions as a member; or
(e) has so abused his position as to render his continuance in office prejudicial to the public interest.
1[(2) No such member shall be removed from his office under clause (d) or clause (e) of sub-section (1) unless he has been given a reasonable opportunity of being heard in the matter.]
|1. Substituted by Act 2 of 2000, section 7, for sub-sections (2) and (3) (w.r.e.f. 24-1-2000).|
Section 8. Meetings
(1) The Authority shall meet at such times and places, and shall observe such rules of procedure in regard to the transaction of business at its meetings (including quorum at such meetings) as may be provided by regulations.
(2) The Chairperson or, if for any reason, he is unable to attend a meeting of the Authority, Vice-Chairperson and in his absence, any other member chosen by the members present from amongst themselves at the meeting shall preside at the meeting.
(3) All questions which come up before any meeting of the Authority shall be decided by a majority vote of the members present and voting, and in the event of an equality of votes, the Chairperson or in his absence, the person presiding, shall have a second or casting vote.
(4) The Authority may make regulations for the transaction of business at it meetings.
Section 9. Vacancies, etc., not to invalidate proceedings of Authority
No act or proceeding of the Authority shall be invalid merely by reason of
(a) any vacancy in, or any defect in the constitution of, the Authority; or
(b) any defect in the appointment of a person acting as a member of the Authority; or
(c) any irregularity in the procedure of the Authority not affecting the merits of the case.
Section 10. Officers and other employees of Authority
(1) The Authority may appoint officers and such other employees as it considers necessary for the efficient discharge of its functions under this Act.
(2) The salary and allowances payable to and the other conditions of service of the officers and other employees of the Authority appointed under sub-section (1) shall be such as may be1[prescribed]:
2[Provided that any regulation, in respect of the salary and allowances payable to and other conditions of service of the officers and other employees of the Authority, made before the commencement of the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Amendment) Act, 2000, shall cease to have effect immediately on the notification of rules made under clause (ca) of sub-section (2) of section 35.]
|1. Substituted by Act 2 of 2000, section 8, for "determined by regulations" (w.r.e.f. 24-1-2000).|
2. Inserted by Act 2 of 2000, section 8 (w.r.e.f. 24-1-2000).
Section 11. Functions of Authority
1 [(1) Notwithstanding anythingcontained in the Indian Telegraph Act, 1885 (13 of 1885), the functions of theAuthority shall be to-
(a) make recommendations, either suomotu or on a request from the licensor, on the following matters, namely:-
(i) need and timing for introductionof new service provider;
(ii) terms and conditions of licence to a serviceprovider;
(iii) revocation of licence fornon-compliance of terms and conditions of licence;
(iv) measures to facilitatecompetition and promote efficiency in the operation of telecommunicationservices so as to facilitate growth in such services;
(v) technological improvements inthe services provided by the service providers;
(vi) type of equipment to be used bythe service providers after inspection of equipment used in the network;
(vii) measures for the developmentof telecommunication technology and any other matter relatable totelecommunication industry in general;
(viii) efficient management ofavailable spectrum;
(b) discharge the followingfunctions, namely:-
(i) ensure compliance of terms andconditions of licence;
(ii) notwithstanding anythingcontained in the terms and conditions of the licence granted before thecommencement of the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Amendment) Act,2000, fix the terms and conditions of inter-connectivity between the serviceproviders;
(iii) ensure technical compatibilityand effective inter-connection between different service providers;
(iv) regulate arrangement amongstservice providers of sharing their revenue derived from providingtelecommunication services;
(v) lay-down the standards ofquality of service to be provided by the service providers and ensure thequality of service and conduct the periodical survey of such service providedby the service providers so as to protect interest of the consumers oftelecommunication service;
(vi) lay-down and ensure the timeperiod for providing local and long distance circuits of telecommunicationbetween different service providers;
(vii) maintain register ofinterconnect agreements and of all such other matters as may be provided in theregulations;
(viii) keep register maintainedunder clause (vii) open for inspection to any member of public on payment ofsuch fee and compliance of such other requirement as may be provided in theregulations;
(ix) ensure effective compliance ofuniversal service obligations;
(c) levy fees and other charges atsuch rates and in respect of such services as may be determined by regulations;
(d) perform such other functionsincluding such administrative and financial functions as may be entrusted to itby the Central Government or as may be necessary to carry out the provisions ofthis Act:
Provided that the recommendations ofthe Authority specified in clause (a) of this sub-section shall not be bindingupon the Central Government:
Provided further that the CentralGovernment shall seek the recommendations of the Authority in respect ofmatters specified in sub-clauses (i) and (ii) of clause (a) of this sub-sectionin respect of new licence to be issued to a service provider and the Authorityshall forward its recommendations within a period of sixty days from the dateon which that Government sought the recommendations:
Provided also that the Authority mayrequest the Central Government to furnish such information or documents as maybe necessary for the purpose of making recommendations under sub-clauses (i)and (ii) of clause (a) of this subsection and that Government shall supply suchinformation within a period of seven days from receipt of such request:
Provided also that the CentralGovernment may issue a licence to a service provider if no recommendations arereceived from the Authority within the period specified in the second provisoor within such period as may be mutually agreed upon between the CentralGovernment and the Authority:
Provided also that if the CentralGovernment having considered that recommendation of the Authority, comes to aprima facie conclusion that such recommendation cannot be accepted or needsmodifications, it shall, refer the recommendation back to the Authority for itsreconsideration, and the Authority may within fifteen days from the date ofreceipt of such reference, forward to the Central Government its recommendationafter considering the reference made by that Government. After receipt offurther recommendation if any, the Central Government shall take a finaldecision.]
(2) Notwithstanding anythingcontained 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 whichthe telecommunication services within India and outside India shall be providedunder this Act including the rates at which messages shall be transmitted toany country outside India:
Provided that the Authority maynotify different rates for different persons or class of persons for similartelecommunication services and where different rates are fixed as aforesaid theAuthority shall record the reasons therefor.
(3) While discharging its functions2 [under sub-section (1) or sub-section (2)] the Authority shall not act againstthe interest of the sovereignty and integrity of India, the security of theState, friendly relations with foreign States, public order, decency ormorality.
(4) The Authority shall ensuretransparency while exercising its powers and discharging its functions.
|1. Substituted by Act 2 of 2000,section 9, for sub-section (1) (w.r.e.f. 24-1-2000).|
2. Substituted by Act 2 of 2000,section 9, for "under sub-section (1)" (w.r.e.f. 24-1-2000).