Bharti Airtel is not the Telegraph Authority of India – Consumer Forum

A district forum in Karnataka faulted Bharti Airtel Ltd for failing to convert a corporate mobile connection into a personal connection despite the ex-employee producing a no-objection certificate from his ex-employer. The Tumkur forum also dismissed Bharti Airtel’s contention that it represented the ‘Telegraph Authority of India’ and it cannot be subjected to the proceedings of a consumer court.


“Present dispute is not between the telegraph authority and Mr.Rajesh. Here the present complaint is filed by Rajesh against Bharati Airtail Ltd. In view of the definition of Telegraph authority as given in Section 3 Sub-section (6) of the Telegraph Act. Bharati Airtel Ltd. is not a telegraph authority and hence, Section 7(B) of the Telegraph Act cannot be attracted in the present matter.

“As per the said definition as telegraph authority means “the Director-General of Posts and Telegraphs and includes any officer empowered by him to perform all or any of the functions of the telegraph authority under the Indian Telegraph Act, 1885”,” the Forum said, quoting an earlier judgment.

The Telegraph Authority defence is routinely used by private telecom operators to quash proceedings against them.

In some cases, some district fora accept the defence. In case of Vodafone and Vinod Kumar Pandey of Delhi, for example, the forum based in Sheikh Sarai, New Delhi, accepted the contention.

In an order pronounced last month, it said: “The term “Telegraph Authority” as defined in Section 3 (6) mean the Director-General of Posts and Telegraphs, and includes any officer empowered by him to perform all or any of the functions of the Telegraph authority under this Act.

“Therefore, the word “Telegraph authority” includes the officers empowered by Director-General of post and Telegraph also. The “Telegraph officer” is defined in Section 3 (2) of the Act, and includes the person employed temporarily or permanently in connection with Telegraph established, maintained or worked by the Central government or by a person licensed under this Act.

“Therefore, by virtue of this definition of Telegraph officer a person employed permanently or temporarily with licensed person under the Act is also a Telegraph officer. So, by implication, the licensed service providers like the OP would come within the definition of “Telegraph authority” and the provisions of Section 7B of the Act,” the Delhi forum said.

In the Tumkur case, Airtel also said it has not received any documents such as I.D. Card Photos and and that as per TRAI Regulations upon receipt of specified documents telephone connection, including conversion of corporate SIM to private SIM to be done.

However, the complainant, L.Ramanjaiah, said he had given all the documents to the company on 21/11/2013.

The consumer forum was unhappy with the absence of Bharti Airtel from the proceedings later on.

“It is the bounden duty of the law abiding citizen to attend the court proceedings and assist the court by filing valid objection if any. But unfortunately in spite of service of legal notice and court summons, the OP failed to appear before the court and not contested the matter and hence all the allegations leveled against the OP No.2 remained un-challenged and at this circumstances, we have to believe the contentions raised by the complainant,” it noted.

“Hence, in view of the above submission, it is just and proper to direct the complainant to get the SIM converted into personal from corporate by furnishing the required/necessary documents,” it added, directing Airtel to pay Rs 1000 as litigation costs to the complainant.