Par panel concerned over delay in setting up telecom ombudsman

Source: The Hitavada      Date: 01 Jan 2018 10:27:51

New Delhi,

Dec 31,


A Parliamentary panel has expressed concern over delay in setting up of an ombudsman to deal with consumer grievances in the telecom sector despite the regulator TRAI recommending it twice. Asserting that existing grievance redressal mechanism for telecom is "grossly inadequate", the Standing Committee on IT has said that ‘urgent steps’ should be taken to amend the Consumer Protection Act in order to include telecom consumer complaints and financial claims of customers under its ambit.

“The committee is however concerned to note that even though TRAI (Telecom Regulatory Authority of India) had recommended for an ombudsman before the year 2004, the same has not been put in place till date,” the report by the Parliamentary panel said. The committee said that it has now been informed by the Telecom Department that TRAI has again, in 2017, recommended setting of the ombudsman as an independent mechanism offering technology based resolution for compliant redressal. The committee expressed disappointment over the delay in setting up of a mechanism to deal with such grievances, and asked the Telecom Department and TRAI to act with concrete plan for setting up the ombudsman in telecom sector in a “definite and clear time-frame”.

Recounting its earlier views, captured in a previous report, the panel said it had suggested amendment in the Consumer Protection Act and early setting up of e-courts “taking note of the fact that existing grievance redressal mechanism was grossly inadequate in the sector and there was a need for setting up robust mechanism to protect the interest of consumers”. The committee also rapped the Telecom Department for not bringing it up to speed on the steps taken on both the counts.

“The committee reiterate their earlier recommendations and emphasise that urgent steps be taken to amend the Consumer Protection Act so as to bring telecom consumer complaints including financial claims of customers under Consumer Protection Act and also steps be taken for setting up of e-courts to address telecom complaints,” it said.

Earlier, the Consumer Protection Act was applicable to telecom cases - large in number with small ticket size - but a Supreme Court decision excluded the telecom consumers from the purview of the Act. At the same time, TRAI Act 1997 does not entail handling of individual consumer complaints by the regulator and all complaints received by it are forwarded to concerned telecom operators for suitable action.