Consumer organisation says courts still accepts telegraph

As the D-day for telegram services – July 15, gets closer, there are sections that hope they can pull off a last minute save.

Among the hopeful who are against the BSNL’s proposal to discontinue the 160-year-old service, is the Federation of Consumer and Service Organizations in Tiruchi.

The federation filed a public interest litigation (PIL) at the Madurai bench of the Madras High Court on Thursday, appealing for continuing telegram service in the larger interest of the society. Litigants and the police can communicate important messages with the proof of delivery only through the telegram, M. Sekaran, president of the federation, has said in the affidavit.

The telegraph service is also being used to send grievances to the Ministers and various Commissions, he added. The BSNL cannot perceive that all persons have access to mobile and internet facilities, the petitioner has argued. Rural tele-density (number of telephone connections per 100 individuals) is only 39.90 per cent, the petitioner has said, citing the annual report of 2012- 2013 of the Department of Telecommunications, Ministry of Communications and Information Technology.

The BSNL has taken into account only the urban tele-density in areas such as Delhi (220 per cent), Mumbai (159.57 per cent) and Kolkata (155.10 per cent).

Telegrams continue to be the means for poor and rural people to convey their message with proof, the petitioner has argued.

The PIL has raised question as to why the service should be scrapped on grounds of loss, when other services such as postcards and buses continue to be operated by the government, despite revenue loss.

Telegram charges have been increased almost seven times, since telegraph services were handed over from the Postal Department to BSNL in 1990. The move seems to be designed to discourage use of telegraph service, Mr. Sekaran said.

Return to P&T

The service could be returned to the postal department, which was handling the services since its inception.

Discontinuing telegraph services is against the right to ‘Freedom of Speech and Expression’ irrespective of the medium of communication.