A bill to amend and consolidate the laws relating to the development, expansion and operation of telecommunication services and telecommunication networks, the assignment of spectrum, and to amend certain provisions of the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India Act(TRAI), 1997 was introduced in the Lok Sabha on December 18.
The Telecommunications Bill, 2023, was introduced by Communications, Electronics and Information Technology Minister Ashwini Vaishnaw amid protests by Opposition parties over their demand for a statement from Home Minister Amit Shah over the parliament security breach incident on December 13.
BSP MP Ritesh Pandey opposed its introduction, saying the Government is bringing it as a “money bill” so that Rajya Sabha is not able to have a decisive say. He said the Bill also raises concerns over the privacy of data.
The new Bill seeks to repeal the Indian Telegraph Act, 1885, the Indian Wireless Telegraphy Act, 1933 and the Telegraph Wires (Unlawful Possession) Act, 1950.
According to the statement of objects and reasons of the Bill, there is a need to create a legal and regulatory framework that focuses on a safe and secure telecommunication network that provides for digitally inclusive growth.
It said that the telecommunications sector is a key driver of economic and social development, is the gateway to digital services, and the security of our country is vitally dependent on the safety of telecommunication networks. The current legal framework is governed by three laws enacted in 1885, 1933 and 1950.
“The nature of telecommunication, its usage and underlying technologies have undergone massive changes, especially in the past decade. Therefore, there is a need for enacting legislation for the telecom sector that serves the needs of our society,” the statement said.
The Bill seeks to provide a framework for the authorisation of telecommunication services, telecommunication networks, and possession of radio equipment; the assignment and efficient utilisation of spectrum, including provisions for harmonisation and re-farming; and the development of new technologies and regulatory sandbox for innovation using spectrum.
It provides a framework for developing and maintaining telecom networks through right-of-way provisions and the establishment of common ducts.
The Bill provides a framework for standards and conformity assessment of telecommunication equipment, telecommunication identifiers, telecommunication network and telecommunication services and provisions for national security, public emergency and public safety; The Bill has provisions for the protection of users and defines their users.
It has a framework for the resolution of disputes, a compliance framework for effective implementation of the proposed legislation and saves Part III of the Indian Telegraph Act, 1885, for cases pertaining to the laying of transmission lines under section 164 of the Electricity Act, 2003.
As the Opposition members continued their protest, Rajendra Agrawal, who was in the Chair, told them not to display placards. “This can lead to action,” he said. With the Opposition members not relenting, the House was adjourned till 2 pm.
(with inputs from ANI)