President Droupadi Murmu has given her assent to the Telecommunications Bill, 2023 and Post Office Bill, 2023

Sources said the assent was given on Saturday. With this move, both the Bills that were passed in the just concluded Winter Session of Parliament have now been enacted into law.

The Telecommunications Act 2023, among other things, seeks to promote structural reforms in the telecom sector, streamline regulations, facilitate infrastructure development, and usher in an era of technological advancement. 

With the enactment of this law, the archaic Indian Telegraph Act of 1885 and the Indian Wireless Telegraphy Act of 1933 have been replaced with a comprehensive framework.

The new law makes it easier for telecom companies to obtain the right of way for rolling out infrastructure. Getting permission to install towers and lay cables has been a major challenge. 

The new telecom law also provides for four-tier dispute resolution which will help reduce litigation in the telecom sector.

Experts said that provisions for spectrum allocation outside the auction process, network deployment through clear right-of-way rules, and an effective dispute resolution mechanism offer glimpses of a future-proof ecosystem.

The broad interception powers granted to the state without adequate judicial safeguards raise red flags. The ability to decrypt encrypted messages, the lack of clear guidelines on data retention, and the potential for misuse of biometric identification pose threats to civil liberties, they added.

Post Office Act

With the enactment of the Post Office Bill 2023, the 125-year-old Indian Post Office Act 1898 has been replaced. 

The Post Office Act 2023 authorises post office employees to open or detain any item during transmission in the interest of national security or public safety. There are more than 1.5 lakh post offices in India, with around 1.30 lakh in rural areas.

It also prescribed immunity for post office employees from liability in providing services but with conditions.

The new law also empowers the director general of Postal Services to make rules regarding fees for Post Office services.