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Allahabad HC extends DAS III stay for 3 months

MUMBAI: In yet another setback for the government, the Allahabad High Court has extended stay on digital addressable system (DAS) Phase III implementation in Uttar Pradesh for another three months.

The HC has directed Additional Solicitor General of India Gyan Prakash and Shambhu Chopra, the counsel appearing for respondent no. 2 and the standing counsel for respondent nos. 3 and 4, to file a counter affidavit within four weeks. The matter has been listed for admission before appropriate bench after the expiry of the four weeks period.

“In the meanwhile, we direct the respondents not to disconnect the cable TV network operated by the petitioner through the analogue system for a period of three months from today,” the HC said in the order.

Additional Solicitor General of India Gyan Prakash contended that the government was not extending the last date of 31 December 2015 and that various interim orders granted by various HCs were being challenged by the government before the Supreme Court and the process of filing a Special Leave Petition is under way.

The HC noted that since various HCs have passed interim orders, there is no reason why this court should not grant an interim order.

Earlier, the HC had granted interim relief to local cable operators (LCOs) since the Under Secretary to the Government of India, Ministry of Information & Broadcasting, had sent a letter to the Assistant Secretary of Punjab and Haryana High Court with regard to the order dated 4 January 2016 passed by the Bombay High Court that the stay granted by various HCs should be valid across the country.

Recently, the High Court of Judicature at Hyderabad had extended the stay on DAS Phase III in Andhra Pradesh and Telangana for another four weeks as the MIB, which is the respondent in the both the matters, had filed its counter affidavit late.

The Hyderabad High Court order had set a chain reaction with various HCs including Bombay High Court, Sikkim High Court, Odisha High Court, High Court of Chhattisgarh, and Allahabad High Court giving stay orders in different parts of the country.

The Bombay High Court passed a unique judgment stating that the Hyderabad High Court order would be applicable across India as per the Supreme Court judgment in the Kusum Ingots & Alloys Ltd vs The Union of India 2004 case.

That order was challenged in the Supreme Court by the Indian Broadcasting Foundation (IBF) in the Supreme Court; however, the petition got dismissed as withdrawn as the apex court noted that there was no direct stay granted in the matter.

The IBF is planning to implead itself in the all the DAS-related cases to become a party and then challenge all the cases in the apex court. The MIB also filed an appeal in the SC seeking clubbing of DAS cases and vacating the stay orders on DAS Phase III. The matter is listed for hearing on 14 March.

MIB Joint Secretary R Jaya had recently told the DAS Task Force members that the percentage achievement of DAS Phase III had increased to 90.44% as on 15 February 2016 from 76.45% as on 30 December 2015, as per MIS data.

She had also stated that the STB seeding by multi-system operators (MSOs) had increased to 12.43 million for the period ended 15 February from 6.91 million for the period ended 30 December 2015. After various updates, DAS Phase III covers 33.18 million TV households across 29 states and five Union Territories.

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