Comments on the Draft Indian Telecommunication Bill, 2022

Submissions to the Ministry of Communications

The Department of Telecommunications, Ministry of Communications released a draft of the Indian Telecommunication Bill, 2022 (“Draft Bill”) on September 21, 2022 to solicit public comments. This was accompanied by an Explanatory Note which outlined the need to “restructure the legal and regulatory framework for the telecommunications sector”. Since then, the Draft Bill has generated a significant amount of discussion on various changes that it proposes to make to the current telecom regulatory framework.

The Draft Bill is an attempt by the Government to update the extant regulatory framework in keeping with the advancements and challenges in the sector. It proposes to consolidate the laws governing the provision, development, expansion and operation of telecommunication services, telecommunication networks and telecommunication infrastructure, and assignment of spectrum. This proposed law was much needed given that the three main legislations that currently occupy this domain are considerably outdated, with the most recent of these having been enacted more than 70 years ago. These legislations are: (i) the Indian Telegraph Act, 1885 (“Telegraph Act”); (ii) the Indian Wireless Telegraphy Act, 1934 (“Wireless Telegraphy Act”); and (iii) the Telegraph Wires (Unlawful) Possession Act, 1951 (“Telegraph Unlawful Possession Act”). The Draft Bill proposes to repeal these colonial era legislations and “restructure the legal and regulatory framework” for the telecommunications sector.

This submission sets out our comments on the Draft Bill on specific issues as identified by us. The comments also set out a brief context to the issues sought to be highlighted through our submission. We hope that our comments and drafting suggestions will be useful to the Department of Telecommunications, Ministry of Communications in finalising the Draft Bill.