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Hyderabad HC extends DAS III stay in AP and Telangana by another four weeks

MUMBAI: The High Court of Judicature at Hyderabad has extended the stay on digital addressable system (DAS) Phase III in Andhra Pradesh and Telangana for another four weeks as the Ministry of Information & Broadcasting (MIB), which is the respondent in the both the matters, filed its counter affidavit today.

The ministry had to file the counter by 31 January. The matters have been listed for hearing after two weeks. Petitioners AP MSOs Federation and Federation of Telangana MSOs will file their replies to the counter before the listing of the matter.

The matter will now be heard by a new judge as Justice Vilas V Afzulpurkar, who was hearing the case, is retiring tomorrow.

On 30 December, the HC had stayed the implementation of DAS Phase III in Telangana by two months. A day after granting stay for Telangana, the HC had stayed the implementation of DAS Phase III in Andhra Pradesh for the same period. The federations had sought a stay due to shortage of set-top boxes (STBs).

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 SC by the Indian Broadcasting Foundation (IBF). However, the petition was dismissed as withdrawn as the apex court noted that there was no direct stay granted in the matter.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 has also filed an appeal in the apex court seeking clubbing of DAS cases and vacating the stay orders on DAS Phase III.

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

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