New Delhi: Sectoral tribunal TDSAT has upheld the Department of Telcom's (DoT) power to impose penalty on operators for not dully completing formalities of customer verification for security purposes.

"The matter related to the security of the nation so far as conduct of telegraph is concerned, can be implemented through conditions of licence," a two-member TDSAT bench has said.

The Telecom Dispute Settlement Appellate Tribunal's (TDSAT) order came on a petition filed by the GSM lobby group COAI and various operators challenging the penalty imposed by the DoT.

Terming the penalty imposed by the DoT's TERM Cell in various circles as "illegal, arbitrary and suffering from procedural impropriety", operators had requested that the "penalty regime" introduced by DoT on November 22, 2006 be quashed.

According to them, DoT unilaterally imposing the "Scheme of Financial Penalty for Violation of Terms and Conditions of the Licence Agreement for Subscriber Verification Failure Cases" is not countenanced under the terms of the licences.

However, the TDSAT said," the circular letters issued by the Respondent (DoT) for the aforementioned reason are not illegal or invalid".

It further said," Petitioners (operators) cannot be permitted to question the validity of  those circular letters which have been issued three years prior to the date of filing of the petition being barred under law of Limitation as well in view of the doctrine  of delay/latches on their part".

The TDSAT also upheld TERM cell powers by saying, "DoT cannot be said to have acted illegally and without jurisdiction in delegating its power relating to making inspection, imposition of penalties and the determination thereof by authorities of the Term Cells and the Appellate Authority".

It further said that "the principle of Natural Justice" was provided by DoT by providing enough safeguards to the operators to put their points on adverse findings.