New Delhi: Telecom tribunal TDSAT on Monday asked telecom operators to pay 25 percent of the penalty imposed by the government for failing to fully implement the directive to re-verify prepaid connections in Assam and North East circles.
Passing an interim order, the Telecom Disputes Settlement and Appellate Tribunal (TDSAT) bench headed by its Chairman Justice SB Sinha asked the operators to deposit one-fourth of amount of the penalty.
The operators are--Dishnet Wireless, Vodafone, Bharti Airtel, Idea Cellular and Reliance Telecom.
The tribunal's direction came over a bunch of petitions filed by the operators along with their GSM industry lobby group Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI) seeking stay on the penalty imposed by the DoT's Telecom Enforcement Resource and Monitoring (TERM) cell.
Earlier, only COAI had approached TDSAT on the issue. However, on January 13 the tribunal asked the operators to file individual petitions as well.
In its petition, COAI had said the government circular for re-verification of subscribers was prepared "without any application of mind" and "in a totally casual manner".
According to them, DoT has simply extended the guidelines of J&K service area to Assam and North East.     

COAI has said that as per the circular issued last year by the Department of Telecom, certificates by Village Panchayat Head or its equivalent authority as well as caste and domicile certificates with photographs provided by state governments, were not treated as ID proof.
Moreover, Voters Identity Cards issued before 2008 were also kept outside the list, it said.
The DoT move came in view of apprehensions raised by the security establishment which said that militants were using pre-paid connections for subversive activities as they were made available easily.
The telecom companies fear it may result in erosion of a huge chunk of their 20 million-odd customer base in the North Eastern region.
"It is submitted that while extending such guidelines, DoT failed to notice that these guidelines had been issued keeping the peculiar conditions applicable only to J&K in mind. They could not therefore, without proper modification, be applied in case of Assam and North East Service Areas," COAI had said.