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Draft Telecom Bill Includes Writeoffs, Provisions To Protect Users

India proposes to add provisions on writeoffs, conversion of pending dues into shares, and fines for pesky calls in the new telecom legislation aimed at providing “a legal framework attuned to the realities of the 21st century”, according to a draft.

The Department of Telecommunications released the draft of the Indian Telecommunications Bill, 2022 on Wednesday. If passed, the proposed law will replace the existing regulatory framework for the sector under the Indian Telegraph Act,1885; the Wireless Telegraphy Act,1933 and the Telegraph Wires (Unlawful Possession) Act.

Key Highlights Of The Bill

The draft includes 53 sections divided into 12 chapters, with proposed changes related to licensing processes; restructuring and insolvency; protection of users, among others.

The draft proposes to allow the central government to address defaults in payments by a licensee by:

  • Deferment of payments fully or partly.

  • Convert the full or partial amount of dues into shares in the licensee.

  • Write off the amounts in part of full or grant relief from payment of such amounts.

Relief can only be granted if the central government determines the existence of extraordinary circumstances for taking such measures.

The draft bill proposes only registration, and not a licence, to provide telecommunication infrastructure such as towers, lines and cable corridors.

The draft also contains provisions to prevent harassment of users; fines for violation of the ‘Do Not Disturb’ or for not taking prior consent before sending specified messages.

The central government had issued the consultation paper for the proposed legislation in July. The draft invites suggestions by Oct. 20.

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