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TDSAT directs Digi Hanamkonda to pay Rs 10.5 lakh to Star

MUMBAI: The Telecom Disputes Settlement & Appellate Tribunal (TDSAT) has directed multi-system operator (MSO) Digi Hanamkonda Network India to make an on-account payment of Rs 10.5 lakh (Rs 1.05 million) to Star India within a week, failing which it would be open for the broadcaster to discontinue the supply of its signals.

The tribunal has made it clear that the payment is purely provisional and on account. The rights and liabilities of the parties will be decided by the final adjudication of the petition.

Noting that the previous agreement between the parties has expired more than three months ago, the tribunal directed the MSO to visit Star’s Bangalore office on 12 October in order to execute the renewal of agreement without any further delay.

The matter has been put up under the same heading on 30 October.

The tribunal had passed an order on 10 July directing the MSO to pay Rs 4.7 lakh, subject to which the broadcaster would not discontinue the supply of its signals.

During the time the matter has remained pending before the tribunal, the broadcaster’s dues against the MSO have once again accumulated.

Star India counsel Saurabh Srivastava said that the MSO is liable to pay a sum of Rs 16.03 lakh (Rs 1.6 million) as dues up to 31 August, which was disputed by Digi Hanamkonda’s Diggaj Pathak.

The last interconnect agreement between the parties was executed on 31 January. This agreement is for non-DAS areas and states the number of the MSO’s subscribers for each of its channels and the specific amounts payable by it for those channels.

Pathak, however, contended that the figures of monthly licence fees mentioned in the agreement were arrived at by factoring in 15 per cent increase in the rates as allowed by the tariff order issued by Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI), which was set aside by the tribunal by its order dated 28 April.

According to Pathak, the MSO is paying the monthly licence fee after taking off 15 per cent from the amount mentioned in the agreement and that the amount of Rs 16.03 lakh (Rs 1.6 million) as claimed by Star is the differential amount of 15 per cent.

Pathak also stated that an earlier payment of Rs 3,74,600 made by the MSO was wrongly credited in the account of another entity called Bhadrakali Communications and that amount too should be deducted from the amount of Rs 16.03 lakh (Rs 1.6 million) as claimed by Star.

The tribunal, however, stated that the MSO’s claim of deducting of Rs 3,94,600 from its dues is rather debatable and that it is not fully convinced that the MSO is entitled to that deduction.

The tribunal also said that it was not satisfied that the amount claimed by Star was not based on the agreement and that it was not payable by the petitioner for being the differential amount.