The industry has expressed concern over the dilution of TRAI powers under the new Telecom Bill. The Centre proposes doing away with the 1997 TRAI Act provisions for referencing and back referencing recommendations between the DoT and TRAI. 

Industry body, Broadband India Forum (BIF), noted that the draft Indian Telecommunications Bill 2022 requires a critical review, and a balanced approach towards addressing the needs and concerns of the expansive and rapidly evolving digital ecosystem in the country.

According to BIF, “the draft Telecom Bill provisions propose to take away TRAI’s statutory independence, and seeks to make it subservient to the government”.

The BIF press note added that the draft Bill proposes to remove non-obstante provision and provisons to Section 11(1) of the TRAI Act. These existing provisions pertain to regulatory safeguards and maker and checker balance, which have been instrumental in bringing the sector to where it is today

“By curtailing the powers of the TRAI, the authority will be reduced to one with an extremely limited role and powers, which does not bode well for the sector to have a neutral and independent approach towards facilitating progressive and positive growth for the entire ecosystem. The implications of the draft Bill may prove to be a backward step, taking us to the pre-1997 era, by diluting the critical role and powers of the independent regulator,” said the industry association.