A fundamental rights case filed against Sri Lanka Telecom (SLT) over its controversial tariff structure was dismissed on Tuesday in the Supreme Court. The petition, filed by Vasudeva Nanayakkara in July 2009, stated that the Telecommunications Regulatory Commission (TRC) did not comply with the basic requirements of an order made by the Supreme Court in an earlier case in 2007 over the tariffs and that the TRC suppressed vital facts and deliberately provided disinformation.
The petition this week was dismissed on the grounds that it was trying to reopen the earlier case.
The order in the 2007 case, filed by the Consumer Association of Lanka (CAL), called for SLT to implement a 20% to 25% tariff reduction. Mr. Nanayakkara’s petition noted that despite the reduction ordered by the Court in 2007, the tariff proposed by the TRC resulted in an increase of nearly 30% in the overall call charges compared with the pre-November 2007 tariff. It was observed that in 10 of 15 distinct call charge, bands which fall into the off peak bands: i.e. economy and discount bands extensively used by the residential subscribers have encountered an increase in the call charges. The petition further stated that if a significant proportion of calls in a bill are those of the off peak bands, the bill may be increased by approximately 30%.
The petition stated that the TRC’s recommendation to curtail the reduction of the tariff from 20% to 25% as ordered by the Supreme Court to 9.03% is misleading and unjust and that SLT’s start up fee of Rs.1.50 (excluding VAT) applied to all the time banks, namely peak, economy and discount, further took away the benefit granted by the Supreme Court.