CHENNAI: CAN the police dispose of a material object, surrendered to a court as evidence, which was in turn entrusted to the police for investigation, dispose of it or allow it to ‘lapse’, without the permission of the court? Generally, the answer will be an emphatic ‘no’.
Can the jail authorities produce an accused, an under-trial prisoner for remand extension, in the court without his life? ‘No’ will be the answer again.
But, can this theory be made applicable to a cell-phone with a pre-paid facility?
Advocate VS Suresh has raised this intriguing question in a lower court which has ruled to the contrary, much to his chagrin!
Suresh owned a cell phone to which Airtel had assigned the number 98405 95569 under the pre-paid scheme and he has been using this for years. In early 2010, as he received unwanted and vulgar messages and obscene pictures, which were also charged, he had a made a representation to the service provider to stop sending such messages.
Suresh also lodged a complaint with the police, including the commissioner. As there was no progress, he approached the Chief Metropolitan Magistrate, Egmore, which directed the cyber crime police to register an FIR in December 2010. Following a directive from the court, Suresh deposited the cell phone with the police in August 2011.
While the case was pending, Suresh came to know that his cell phone number 98405 95569 had been assigned to someone else by Airtel. Hence the present petition for a declaration that the number assigned still belonged to him.
Suresh contended that as an advocate he needed the same number. Otherwise, he would lose his contacts and clientele. The company should not have assigned the same number to some other customer without permission from the court. It should have at least informed the petitioner so that he could have made some arrangements to retain the number, he added.
The company submitted that all the subscribers of prepaid mobile connection were governed by the terms and conditions of the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI). As per clause 10 of the rules, the service to a SIM card will be discontinued if there is no usage i.e. no voice calls, SMS and data, continuously for 90 days. No refund will be made for any unused talk time balance and no claim can be made on the validity on the card.
The customer will not be able to use the number, post disconnection, the rule added. Hence, Airtel was empowered to deactivate the connection, its counsel told the court.
Accepting the submissions, XII Assistant Judge KS Jayamangalam dismissed the petition on March 10, copy of which was made available to the parties on June 12 last.
There is nothing wrong in the company disconnecting the service, as per the terms and conditions of the TRAI, the judge said.
Advocate VS Suresh had cell phone with Airtel pre-paid service no. 98405 95569 for years
In 2010, he wanted unsolicited messages stopped and lodged a complaint with the police
Later, he approached the Chief Metropolitan Magistrate, Egmore
Court directed the cyber crime police to register an FIR in December 2010, told Suresh to deposit the cell phone with the police in August 2011
Meanwhile, Airtel allotted the number to another customer
Suresh protested, Airtel threw TRAI rules at him
Rules said service to a SIM will be discontinued if there not used for 90 days
Judge accepted Airtel’s position, so Suresh lost his right to the SIM he had bought but deposited with cops on court’s orders