Trai chief Ram Sewak Sharma, whose tenure saw major decisions on issues like termination charges and predatory pricing, was on Thursday given two-year extension, a day before his term was to end, according to an order.
The Appointments Committee of the Cabinet has approved reappointment of Sharma as chairperson of the telecom regulatory authority of India (Trai) for a further period beyond August 10 upto September 30, 2020, i.e. the date on which he attains the age of 65 ye-ars, the order issued by the personnel ministry said. Sharma was in July 2015 named as the Trai chief for a three years.
Sharma, a 1982 batch (retired) IAS officer of Jharkhand cadre, was recently in news as he had disclosed his Aadhaar number on Twitter and threw an open challenge to people to show how mere knowledge of the 12-digit unique number could be used to harm him. The move had caused a social media flutter as he was criticised by many for throwing such a challenge.
Before becoming Trai chief, Sharma worked as information technology secretary. He has been credited for playing a key role in implementing Aadhaar project.
Some of the decisions by the Trai, ranging from slashing of call-connect charges to its stance on the provision of points of interconnect (sought by Reliance Jio at the start of its services), and predatory pricing rules have come under the industry’s attack.
Earlier this year, Trai’s predatory pricing norms sparked-off a furore as old telecom operators and industry association criticised the new rules. More recently, industry body COAI raised a red flag over Trai’s new regulations on curbing pesky calls and messages, saying tailoring of systems, and use of blockchain technology will involve Rs 200-400 crore investment and 18 months for the rollout, at a time when the sector is financially-stressed.