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Open to setting up separate dispute resolution mechanism for broadcasting sector: Jaitley

NEW DELHI: Flooded with a large number of cases pertaining to the broadcasting sector in the Telecom Disputes Settlement and Appellate Tribunal (TDSAT), the government is open to setting up a separate dispute resolution mechanism for the broadcasting sector, Union Minister for Finance & Corporate Affairs and Information & Broadcasting Arun Jaitley said.

Arun_Jaitley02The issue came up for discussion at the TDSAT’s Adjudication, Regulation and Telecommunication (ART) seminar in Delhi. Jaitley’s comments came after TDSAT chairperson Justice Aftab Alam pointed out that the number of broadcasting cases had far exceeded those related to the telecom sector.

Jaitley assured Justice Alam that the government was willing to look at the suggestion of having a separate mechanism to deal with broadcasting cases. While asking the TDSAT to bring an appropriate suggestion on the matter before the government, he said he would take up the matter with Telecom Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad.

“The matter will require some reconsideration and I will certainly bring this to his [Telecom Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad] notice. What the alternate mechanism of dealing …particularly relating to broadcasting because you feel it (TDSAT) is flooded with broadcasting disputes,” he said.

In 2015, a total of 707 cases were filed before the TDSAT of which 593 cases were related to the broadcast sector and the remaining 104 from telecom.

Justice Alam said that TRAI and the broadcasting bill were simultaneously brought in Parliament. However, the broadcasting bill did not become a law.

“There are issues that need to be addressed. Broadcasting is a very vibrant sector. Everyday new challenges and issues are coming up, and debates are going on. These issues will have to be addressed,” he added.

Noting that the telecom and broadcasting-related case could get indefinitely delayed in civil courts, Jaitley said that the government would look at various mechanisms to deal with the matter.

“If you leave it to the jurisdiction of civil court, then probably the issues can get indefinitely delayed. Therefore, the alternative mechanism could be some other mechanism under the (TRAI) Act, which needs to be created. I am sure the government would always be willing to look at it so that the time and energy of the TDSAT is really spent on larger commercial issues and issues relating to technology,” he said.

He also said that the unlimited jurisdiction of judges creates a situation of a divided authority. “Parts of the same issue or some part of the same cause of action are pending before an authority. Some parts would also be pending before courts,” said Jaitley.

He said also said that regulatory and adjudicating mechanisms have to keep pace with rapidly evolving technologies in the fields of information technology, telecommunications and broadcasting.

Earlier, Justice Aftab Alam said that the government needed to bring clarity on several policy issues and administrative mechanisms.

Speaking on the occasion, Justice J Chalameshwar of the Supreme Court said that setting up specialised benches in the high courts with subject specialists as advisors or commissioners to courts could help overcome multiple layers of adjudication.

He also said that all parties involved in adjudication and regulation policy framers should keep themselves updated on the latest developments in the field.