SC refuses to stay TDSAT order on SMS termination charges
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The Supreme Court on Wednesday refused to stay the TDSAT order directing Tata Teleservices Ltd (TTSL), to clear dues of over Rs 287 crore to Bharti Airtel towards Short Message Service (SMS) termination charges.
A Bench led by Justice GS Singhvi admitted the petition by TTSL but refused to stay the Telecom Disputes Settlement and Appellate Tribunal's (TDSAT) judgment, which had described as "reasonable" Bharti's claim of Rs 287.34 crore dues from TTSL on account of SMS termination charges.
However, the apex court said that in the event of TTSL succeeding in the matter, Bharti will refund the whole amount with interest at the rate of 12 per cent. Senior counsel AM Singhvi, appearing for Bharti, agreed to refund in case the firm lost the case.
Termination charges are paid by an operator from whose network calls or SMSes originate to the one on whose network these communications end. According to TTSL, Bharti cannot be allowed to levy such termination charges at the rate of 10 paise per SMS as it was contrary to the telecom regulator's direction issued in February last year asking the firm to stop applying such "discriminatory" charges.
Senior counsel Mukul Rohatgi, appearing for TTSL, argued that Bharti had been discriminating against the firm by raising such demands while continuing the 'Bill and Keep' regime with other operators.
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