The Department of Telecom plans to continue with Rs. 50 crore as upper penalty limit for operators for any violation of licence conditions, even as it is working on new rules to rationalise such fines.

“Upper limit (Rs. 50 crore) will remain same. There will be no change in that but there will be penalty slabs in the new rules. These slabs will be linked to licence violations,” a Department of Telecom (DoT) official told PTI.

The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) in April last year had recommended classifying penalty in two categories -- minor and major. It had suggested imposition of a maximum penalty of up to Rs. 25 lakh in case of minor violation and up to Rs. 10 crore for a major violation.

The DoT has come under criticism from the industry for imposing maximum penalties of Rs. 50 crore even for minor violations.

Mr. Sibal had said that when DoT imposes high penalty, telecom operators usually contest it before courts. This leads to delays in realisation of amounts.

Telecom players have raised the penalty issue in open house discussions held by the Telecom Ministry.

Industry estimates suggest that the DoT has imposed total penalties of Rs. 6,850 crore on telecom companies which include fines for minor violations like late submission of papers and absence of placards on mobile towers.

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