Dhaka, Dec 13 (UNB) – The High Court on Thursday imposed a ban on hiking mobile phone call rates and charging users for call drops.
Justice Tariq ul Hakim and Justice Md Shohrowardi’s bench also issued a rule seeking explanations on why the mobile phone operators’ failure to protect the users’ rights should not be declared illegal. It also asked why a rule should not be issued to stop sending unnecessary SMS to the users.
The court also ordered formation of an expert committee to review the current mobile call rates.
Secretary of Posts, Telecommunications and Information Technology Ministry, Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission chairman and secretary, mobile operators Grameenphone, Airtel, Robi, Banglalink, and TeleTalk were asked to respond within four weeks.
Advocate Ishrat Hasan stood for the plaintiffs while Deputy Attorney General Amatul Karim represented the state.
On Wednesday, Reporters’ Forum member M Badiuzzaman, Mehedi Hasan, Mobile Phone Users’ Association chief Mohiuddin Ahmed and Supreme Court lawyer Rashidul Hasan filed a writ petition in the form of public interest litigation.
They sent legal notices to the defendants on December 10.
‘2.22 billion calls dropped in the 13 months’
Advocate Ishrat said the operators were charging higher call rates compared to neighbouring countries. “Additional call rates were imposed in August this year without consulting the users. It’s illegal and violates the consumers’ rights,” she said.
There were 2.22 billion dropped calls in the last 13 months, the lawyer said, citing a BTRC report. Grameenphone, which boasts the highest number of subscribers, also tops the list of dropped calls.
Several operators started compensating users for call drops in 2014 but stopped after a few days without any notice.
It prompted the Posts and Telecommunications Division to decide to fine the mobile phone operators for call drops. The operators were to compensate consumers starting from January last year but they are yet to take any effective step, advocate Ishrat said.