Tata Teleservices Limited v. State of Gujarat
Before the Gujarat High Court
Special Civil Application No. 2064 of 2009
Before Justice C.L. Soni
Decided on September 12, 2014
Relevancy of the case: Whether subscribers’ base data is a document or not?
Statutes & Provisions Involved
- The Information Technology Act, 2000 (Section 2(1(t)))
- Telecom Regulatory Authority of India Act, 1997 (TRAI Act)
Relevant Facts of the Case
- This petition is filed by 3 different companies. They are the licensees authorized to provide telecommunication services to their customers under the provisions of Telecom Regulatory Authority of India Act, 1997.
- The customer application form provided by the petitioners with terms and conditions attached to the form or given separately is filled in by the intending customers and accordingly accepted by the petitioners to provide telecommunications services. This application form is considered as ‘instrument’ chargeable with duty.
- The petitioners have challenged that the customer application form cannot be considered as an instrument.
Opinion of the Bench
- According to section 2(I) of the TRAI Act, ‘instrument’ includes every document by which any right or liability is, or purports to be created, transferred, limited, extended, extinguished, or recorded but does not include a bill of exchange, cheque, promissory note, bill of lading, letter of credit, policy of insurance, transfer of share, debenture, proxy and receipt.
- The term ‘document’ also includes any electronic record as defined in clause (t) of subsection (1) of Section 2 of the Information Technology Act, 2000.
- As per the above definition of ‘document’, the subscribers’ data accumulated via customer application form can be called as a document, however, it can’t be called as an instrument under the light of Sections 48A & 68 of the TRAI Act and hence, the Court can’t demand or order any duty against such documents.
- The petition is allowed. Impugned orders and impugned demand notices are quashed and set aside.
- If the petitioners have paid any amount under the impugned orders, they shall be refunded such amounts.