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TRAI added as party in Amritsar-Malwa cable ops vs Fastway case

MUMBAI: The Telecom Disputes Settlement & Appellate Tribunal (TDSAT) has added the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) as a respondent in the Amritsar Cable TV Operators Sangarsh Committee and Malwa Cable Operator Sangarsh Committee versus Fastway Transmission matter.

Amicus curiae Abhishek Malhotra submitted that in case the dispute is not resolved by a proper and workable arrangement, and if the case needs to be decided on merits, it would involve interpretation and enforcement of certain provisions of digital addressable system (DAS) tariff order and in that case the presence of TRAI would facilitate a proper adjudication of the matter.

The tribunal accepted the suggestion and directed TRAI’s addition as a respondent to this case. The matter has been put up under the same heading on 7 May.

Noting that both the petitions filed by Amritsar and Malwa cable operators’ body are against the same respondent and raise similar issues, the tribunal directed both the cases to proceed together.

As in the case involving Fastway and Amritsar Cable TV Operators Sangarsh Committee, the tribunal appointed Ramji Srinivasan and Abhishek Malhotra as amicus curiae in Malwa Cable Operator Sangarsh versus Fastway case as well.

It also impleaded Noida Software Technology Park Ltd (NSTPL) and Delhi Cable Network as respondents in this proceeding following an application by Amritsar and Malwa cable operator committee’s counsel Dinesh Rawat.

In the application, it has been alleged that NSTPL, which owns headend-in-the-sky (HITS) company JAINHITS, in collusion with Fastway is offering channels to local cable operators (LCOs) in Amritsar at a much lower rate in order to push the petitioner LCOs out of business.

Fastway counsel Navin Chawla said that he welcomed summoning of the two entities in this proceeding and states that in case the HITS operator is directed to supply its channels to the petitioner LCOs, the respondent would have no objection.

He also said the MSO will willingly give no objection to the petitioner LCOs for receiving signals from the HITS operator or from any other distributor of channels.

The tribunal said that the impleadment of NSTPL and Delhi Cable Network is meant to verify the circumstances under which they started their operations in Amritsar and the terms on which the HITS operator is supplying its signals to LCOs there. This is also to direct the HITS player to supply its signals at the same rates and on the same terms to the petitioner LCOs.

Meanwhile, the tribunal had received a communication dated 11 April from one Davinder Singh, who alleged that in order to ruin his business, Fastway had started a new analogue TV cable network in the area of Talwandi (which is his area) just for Rs 50 per connection and also started providing six months’ free subscription.

He claimed that Fastway has taken away around 700 of his connections, making it difficult for him to earn his livelihood. He further alleged that some Fastway officials are threatening to ruin his life like Jassi of Amritsar if he does not withdraw the case immediately.

While refraining from making any comments on the allegations made in the letter, the tribunal said that it would pass an appropriate order in this connection if an occasion arises at any stage in the proceeding.

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TDSAT appoints amicus curiae in Amritsar cable ops vs Fastway case