DoT awaits legal opinion on creation of ombudsman under Trai
New Delhi: The Department of Telecom has sought legal opinion on creation of an ombudsman under sector regulator Trai which aims to give impartial hearing to telecom subscribers on their complaints. “The DoT has sought legal opinion on some points in the framework for telecom sector ombudsman. Once the legal opinion is received, the framework will be modified, if required, and it will be shared with Trai,” an official source said. The Trai Act may be modified to create an ombudsman with power to penalise operators or compensate consumers. Telecom grievances mechanism till date has largely remained within control of service providers. Under present norms, telecom subscribers can register a complaint with the call centre of their service provider. It can be escalated to nodal officer of the telecom operator in case the complaint is not resolved and thereafter Appellate Authority set-up by the service provider. In most of the cases, specially billing disputes, consumers complained of getting no relief from the three levels. The complaint thus remains limited between the subscriber and the telecom company. The Telecom Commission on May 1 cleared the proposal for creation of an ombudsman under the aegis of the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India(Trai) to resolve subscriber complaints, a move aimed at empowering mobile consumers. The apex decision-making body of the Telecom Ministry also said necessary amendments will be initiated in the TRAI Act for effective enforcement of the new three-tier complaint redressal mechanism. There will now be three-tier mechanism to deal with consumer grouse in the telecom sector, which gets nearly 10 million grievances and complaints per quarter. At the first tier, complaint can be handled by the operator itself, and in case of dissatisfaction, customer can approach an appellate authority that will be within the operator. Over and above this, there will soon be the ombudsman. Trai has recommended that the Ombudsman should have the power to award compensation to a consumer, award costs and issue directions to telecom services providers for the performance of specific obligations.