First litigation hurdle for DoT for not prohibiting zero-rated plans

NEW DELHI: Indian Netizens and Internet Entrepreneurs Welfare Association (INIEWA), a non-profit association of Indian netizens and Internet entrepreneurs and companies formed to save India’s net neutrality, has initiated the first legal proceedings against Department of Telecommunications (DoT) for not prohibiting zero-rating plans in India.

INIEWA has served a formal legal notice to DoT and sought it to pass and enforce appropriate orders against TSPs within ten days from imposing an absolute prohibition of operation of any form of zero-rated plans, failing which INIEWA would be approaching the appropriate judicial authority.

“The zero-rated plans are only designed to give restrictive / limited access to the end-consumers of India for a select few apps, which do a B2B tie-up with the TSPs, and thereby, is in complete violation of the DoT’s license condition(s),” an INIEWA statement said.

INIEWA Founding President Varun Bajaj, said: “It is surprising that DoT till date is not performing both its legal and statutory obligation of enforcing its very own laid-down DoT license condition(s) against the TSPs to prohibit the TSPs to operate the zero-rated plans in India and / or penalise / cancel the license(s) of the TSPs on account of violating the said DoT license condition.”

He added that DoT appears to be indirectly advocating in favour of the TSPs for launching the zero-rated plans in India by stating that since there is no policy on net-neutrality as on date in India, therefore, the hands of DoT are tied. This position of DoT, in light of the already existing DoT license condition is a complete incorrect legal position of DoT.

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