New Delhi: Telecom tribunal TDSAT on Tuesday set aside sector regulator TRAI's circular limiting the number of SMSes to 200 per day per SIM.
Allowing a petition by Shiv Sena chief Bal Thackeray's grandson Aditya's challenging the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India directive, TDSAT set aside the ceiling fixed by TRAI.
A TDSAT bench headed by its chairman justice S B Sinha pronounced the judgement.
Terming the ceiling as "arbitrary" and against the right of freedom of expression guaranteed under the Constitution, Aditya said as President of Yuvasena he had to send SMSes to keep in touch with followers and public and sought personal exemption from restriction on the number of SMSes per SIM.
Last Friday, the Delhi High Court had set aside the 200 SMSes cap but had upheld the curb on unwanted commercial SMSs saying they infringed the "equally" important right to privacy of "unwilling recipients".
TRAI had said before the tribunal and said that decision to cap the number of SMSes was taken in public interest.
Aditya, the son of Uddhav Thackeray, has submitted that the restriction on SMSes was just a "non-application of mind" by TRAI and the circular fixing ceiling "has not explained why and how the figure of 100/200 SMS(s) per day was arrived at".
He further submitted that no consultation process was adopted by TRAI before incorporating the clause in this regard in the Telecom Commercial Communications Customer Preference (8th Amendment) Regulation, 2011.
He also said the objective of the regulations is to curb the menace of unsolicited commercial messages and if any such restrictions are to be put, then it should be on the persons sending such messages and not on the ordinary people.
"By imposing a blanket ban on more than 200 SMSes, TRAI has far exceeded the object sought to be achieved and that makes regulations arbitrary, unreasonable, highly disproportionate and unsustainable in law," said Aditya in the petition.
Trai had permitted sending only 100 SMSes per day per SIM except on blackout days or days specially notified by it.
However, on November 1, 2011 it increased the numbers to 200 per day.
Seeking personal exemption, Aditya said that he "as President of Yuvasena, keeps in touch with his followers and general public through SMS. Every day there are people who wait for his SMS giving them thought of the day?
"The restriction is therefore, not only on his right to dissipate his views but also a curtailment of right of his followers/associates to receive information," he said.