Aircel was one of the best telecom service providers in India so far. However, in the mid of February 2018, Aircel suddenly stopped giving services to customers in almost all of the States in India. At that time Aircel was contemplating filing of bankruptcy petition after changing its board of director composition but it kept that information secret. To keep its customers occupied, Aircel lied to them about technical problems. But very soon its intentions to file a bankruptcy petition were made public and a bankruptcy petition was filed by Aircel.
The National Company Law Tribunal’s Mumbai bench will hear on March 8 Aircel’s plea for bankruptcy protection under Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code, 2016. Aircel, running a debt of Rs 15,500 crore to lenders, besides thousands of crores to operational creditors, sought an urgent hearing on the matter, saying it needs to resume operations. This is natural as well and the NCLT would hear Aircel bankruptcy plea on March 8, 2018.
This bankruptcy proceeding is not within the purview of this article and we at PTLB are with Aircel in its hard times. But we strongly condemn the deceptive behavior of Aircel through which it misled its customers in India. This article intends to make public aware about the sad condition of consumer rights that are openly violated in India and authorities like Department of Telecommunication (DoT), Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI), etc remain moot spectators.
We at Perry4Law Techno Legal Base (PTLB) are managing few techno legal projects that are ensuring access to justice and justice to all in India, especially for the marginalised segments. These include projects like E-Courts 4 Justice (EC4J), Resolve Without Litigation (RWL), etc. To spread public awareness and to make Indians sufficiently trained to use these services, we have opened a training cum awareness platform. The same is known Online Dispute Resolution (ODR) And Cyber Arbitration Platform. Here any person can open a dispute resolution ticket and we at PTLB fight for such person to strengthen justice for all in India.
As the problem of Aircel created all India ramifications and we were also affected by it, we created a ticket at ODR platform of PTLB. DoT, TRAI, etc were made parties to the same and a grievance was lodged with government department/authorities. This was done as both DoT and TRAI failed to comply with its legal obligations and protect consumer rights of telecom customers of Aircel.
One may ask why we need DoT and TRAI at all if they cannot perform simple task of protecting interests of telecom customers. Indian government is boasting about mobile manufacturing capabilities of India but what would we do without mobile connectivity and broadband facilities. Digital India is a complete failure has been sufficiently proved by Aircel fiasco. This also proved that India cannot rely upon telecom services for its disaster management activities. A first responder relies heavily upon telecommunication and Aircel fiasco has proved that Indian crisis management and disaster reliefs is in doldrums.
We initially decided not to write this article but both DoT and TRAI forced us to write it. We would update all about any development regarding Aircel fiasco. For the time being, we are sending regular reminders to both DoT and TRAI. While DoT is simply forwarding tweet grievances to concerned TSP, TRAI is following its trademark style of remaining deaf, dumb and blind.
Forwarding of tweets by DoT is proving to be the counterpart of sending an aggrieved person from one desk to another in a typical government office of India. But patience of public is running out and some have decided to block roads to protest against Aircel blackout. This seems to be appropriate as well when DoT and TRAI are not willing to take any action against Aircel and Aircel is not making any commitment to restore services.
We would update all in this regard very soon.