Monday, December 13, 2010

Vodafone India Playing Security And National Interest Card

In this “Guest Column”, Praveen Dalal, Managing Partner of Perry4Law, shares some insights regarding the reverification drive of DoT India and service providers like Vodafone.

At last I got some insight about the “Reverification Drive” of Department of Telecommunication (DOT) India and mobile service providers like Vodafone. A person named Rahul Sindwani of Customer Care, Vodafone, finally contacted me to explain the rationale for unilateral disconnection exercise of mobile services of Vodafone India in the name of “Reverification”.

He informed that as per DOT guidelines they have instructions to disconnect all cellular connections, whose documentation is found non-complaint by the “authorities”. Now this is interesting on at least two counts. First, Vodafone has passed the buck upon DOT India for this whole mess. Secondly, who are these “Authorities” that see whether the documents in question are complaint or non complaint? Is it DOT, India or the Security and Intelligence Agencies?

It also raise an important question that if complete and proper documents in question have already been submitted at the time of getting connection, why Vodafone/DOT are again asking for the same? Without knowing who checked our documents and what deficiencies, if any, have been found by them, it is very difficult to believe the argument of DOT/Vodafone regarding lack of proper documentation. Perhaps, it is high time for a Right to Information Application (RTI Application) against DOT/Vodafone.

Vodafone also played the classic card of “Security” and “Public Interest” for this whole mess. Where is “Public Interest” in harassing law abiding and honest citizens and what “Security” purposes it is going to serve?

Meanwhile, I have once again communicated with Vodafone and asked for further details like the rationale for resubmission of documents, by whom my documents have been analysed, who are the authorities that analyses the documents, how would Vodafone indemnify the users whose documents have been misused and why should not a Consumer Case and Civil Proceeding be started against Vodafone.

I hope I would get some good, concrete and logical answers this time and not another eye wash response by Vodafone. Of course, the option of filing an RTI Application to elicit truth is always available to me.

Vodafone India Served Legal Notice For Reverification

In what seems to be a much required development, Praveen Dalal, a Supreme Court Lawyer, sent a show cause cum legal notice to Vodafone, Delhi regarding illegal and unreasonable demand for deposit of documents for reverification that have already been submitted by millions of Indians, including him.

It is also learnt that e-mail has also been sent to Minister Kapil Sibal in this regard bringing to his notice the arbitrary manner in which the entire reverification exercise is conducted by Vodafone, Delhi.

Mobile service provider like Vodafone have been using unreasonable and arm twisting techniques of disconnecting the connections of law abiding and honest users who have already submitted all the required documents at the time of getting connection.

Further, there is no assistance of any sort from Vodafone customer care that never replies back to the grievances of its users. This is definitely against the license terms and conditions that asks service providers like Vodafone to provide qualitative services to its users and resolves all their grievances and disputes.

In the past the department of telecommunications (DoT) has been too friendly with telecom companies and this is the reason why controversial issues like 2G scam took place.

DoT India must establish a procedure where the illegal and unreasonable practices adopted by telecom service providers can be analysed and curbed. Presently, the service providers have a free hand and this is a nightmare for the end users.

With Kapil Sibal as the new Minister, we can expect efficiency, transparency and accountability of telecom dealings. Although he has much more important tasks at hand, it would be a good idea if he analyses the reverification menace created by service providers like Vodafone as well.