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SC admits MIB’s transfer petition on DAS III cases, directs HCs to stop proceedings

MUMBAI: The Supreme Court has admitted the petition of the Ministry of Information & Broadcasting (MIB) on transfer of all cases related to digital addressable system (DAS) Phase III and has directed the High Courts to stop the proceedings until further orders.

The bench of Justices V Gopala Gowda and Arun Mishra has issued notices to the respondents and directed them to file their responses by 1 April.

“Final decision shall not be rendered by the High Courts where the writ petitions which are sought to be transferred by this Transfer Petition until further orders,” the bench said in a brief order.

The MIB had filed a transfer petition seeking transfer of all the HC cases related to DAS Phase III to the apex court. The ministry wants the stay orders in all the cases to be vacated.

Recently, the Indian Broadcasting Foundation’s ( IBF) plea against the Bombay High Court order on DAS Phase III was dismissed as withdrawn by the apex court.

Currently, DAS Phase III has been stayed by the High Court of Judicature at Hyderabad, Bombay High Court, Sikkim High Court, Odisha High Court, High Court of Chhattisgarh and Allahabad High Court. Certain cable operators in Karnataka and Kerala have individually got interim relief from the HCs against coercive action by the government.

The Hyderabad High Court had recently extended DAS Phase III deadline in Andhra Pradesh and Telangana by another four weeks. Following that, the Allahabad High Court had extended the stay in Uttar Pradesh by another two months.

A number of other MSO associations and individuals filed petitions in various HCs, such as Orissa, Chandigarh, Allahabad, Indore, Kerala, Chhattisgarh, Jaipur, Karnataka, Guwahati, Kolkata and Shimla. One of major contentions in the majority of the cases has been the shortage of set-top boxes (STBs).

The Chhattisgarh High Court is the only one to have clearly stated that the stay granted will not be extended once the period ends. It had granted a two-month stay on DAS Phase III in January.

Minister of State in the MIB Rajyavardhan Rathore recently said in the Lok Sabha that DAS Phase III had been completed in the states of Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Meghalaya, Bihar, Goa, Gujarat, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Kerala, Karnataka, Jammu & Kashmir, Maharashtra, Nagaland, Punjab, Sikkim, Uttarakhand, West Bengal & Andaman & Nicobar, as per data provided by the multi-system operators (MSOs), direct-to-home (DTH) and headend-in-the-sky (HITS) operators.

Digitisation in Andhra Pradesh, Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh, Odisha, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh, and Dadra & Nagar Haveli is nearing completion, he said, further stating that in other states and Union Territories it is yet to be fully achieved.

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