The Supreme Court has issued a notice to Vodafone Idea Limited (Vi) and Bharti Airtel on a request by Reliance Jio Infocomm for lending it a hearing in a case related to the points of interconnection issue pending before the Telecom Disputes Settlement and Appellate Tribunal (TDSAT).

Earlier, the operators, Vi and Airtel, had moved the TDSAT against the Department of Telecommunications’ (DoT’s) demand of Rs 30.50 billion as cumulative penalties from the two telecoms for allegedly denying adequate points of interconnection to Reliance Jio in 2016 when it commenced operations, affecting the quality of services, thus flouting licence conditions, the appeal stated. The DoT had raised the demands on September 29, 2021.

Subsequently, TDSAT, on October 22, 2021, had stayed the recovery of the amount till the issue is finally decided. The fine followed a recommendation by the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) which had in October 2016 found the three service providers, Bharti Airtel, Vodafone India and Idea Cellular guilty of flouting service quality rules.

The regulator had recommended fines of Rs 10.50 billion each on Vi and Airtel for violating licence conditions in 21 circles each and Rs 9.50 billion on Idea Cellular for violating the rule in 19 circles. Vodafone India and Ideal Cellar have since merged.

Meanwhile, Jio said that the reason for the imposition of the penalty on Vodafone Idea and Airtel collectively was that the Incumbent Dominant Operators (IDOs) had wilfully denied adequate PoIs to RJIL in 2016. It was as a consequence of this denial that RJIL suffered call failures of over Rs 102 million on a daily basis during this period, its petition claimed.