Delhi HC cautions Tata Sky on non-implementation of TRAI tariff order, regulations

MUMBAI: The Delhi High Court has cautioned direct to home (DTH) operator Tata Sky that if it doesn’t implement the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India’s (TRAI) tariff order and regulations it will do so at its own risk.

Hearing the appeals filed by Tata Sky, Bharti Telemedia, Discovery Communications India, and Tarun Mehta, the division bench of Chief Justice V Kameswar Rao told the DTH operator that it runs the risk of blacking out the TV screens of its customers should the judgement go against it and if it is not prepared to implement the new framework.

The new regulatory framework has come into force from 29th December 2018. However, the TRAI has granted one month time to the distribution platform operators (DPOs) to transition consumers to the new regime from 1st February.

In the previous hearing, Tata Sky had got an interim reprieve from the HC from implementing the new regulatory framework till 10th January. Justice Rao had also directed TRAI not to take any coercive action against the DTH operator till next hearing. The relief was restricted to Tata Sky and didn’t apply to other parties.

However, there was no such relief from the HC today even as it clarified that there will be no interim stay on the new regulatory framework. That said, the HC has left it to Tata Sky to implement the tariff order and the regulations.

Appearing on behalf of Tata Sky, senior counsel Kapil Sibal argued that the TRAI’s new regulatory framework becomes infructuous due to the non-implementation of the clause that caps bouquet discounts at 15%.

On 3rd January, the TRAI’s petition in Supreme Court seeking clarity on the fate of the clause 3(3) of the tariff order was dismissed as withdrawn as the apex court left it to the TRAI to take a call whether or not it wants to enforce the same.

Sibal also argued that the TRAI should also come clean on the process followed by it to frame the new regulations.

In response to Sibal’s submissions, TRAI counsels Tushar Singh and Saket Singh contended that the DTH operator’s petition doesn’t even mention with the 15% discount cap matter. He also stated that Tata Sky should amend its petition if it wants to proceed with the matter based on the 15% discount cap issue.

Singh also argued that all the DPOs barring Tata Sky have started implementing the new regulatory framework. He also asserted that the regulatory framework is in force, however, the consumers have got a one-month migration time.

He also noted that TRAI had followed a consultation paper before coming out with the new tariff order and the regulations. The deliberations that went over the new regulatory framework are all in the framework.

He also agreed to produce documents sought by the DTH operator on the next date of hearing on 15 January.

Meanwhile, the bench has allowed the impleadment of Dish TV, IMCL (HITS), and other consumer organisations. Earlier, the All India Digital Cable Federation (AIDCF) was impleaded in the matter.

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