Independent TV moves TDSAT against encashment of its bank guarantee by MIB

MUMBAI: Direct to home (DTH) operator Independent TV has moved Telecom Disputes Settlement and Appellate Tribunal (TDSAT) against encashment of its bank guarantee amounting to Rs 50 crore by the ministry of information and broadcasting (MIB).

The bank guarantee was encashed as the DTH operator had failed to pay licence fee. The DTH operator’s content is that it is not liable to pay licence fee as it has incurred losses.

The tribunal has directed both the parties to maintain status quo with respect to the encashment of bank guarantees. The matter has been posted under the same head on 13th April.

Union of India counsel AP Sahay appeared before the tribunal with instructions that the two Bank Guarantees in total amounting to Rs. 50 crore has already been encashed and the concerned Bank i.e. Punjab National Bank, has made available the amount to the respondent through two Demand Drafts dated 28th February 2020 and those have been deposited by the MIB in their account.

On the other hand, Independent TV counsel submitted on instructions that the amount in question has not been transferred by the Bank to the MIB’s account.

The tribunal has granted four weeks’ time to the Union of India for filing a reply. Time for filing rejoinder shall be considered on the next date.

The tribunal also stated that it will be open for the DTH operator to make a representation and have a meeting with the concerned authority of the Union of India and produce all materials to support its claim that for both the financial years in question it is is not liable to pay any licence fee because it has incurred losses and, therefore, it is not a case fit for imposition of any penalty.

“If the petitioner (Independent TV) makes such a representation and furnish materials the respondent (Union of India) will be at liberty to examine the relevant issues for coming to their own satisfaction,” the TDSAT said in its order.

“In view of rival stand on facts of encashment noticed above, the only interim order possible at this stage is to direct for maintaining the status quo with respect to encashment of the Bank Guarantees. Both the parties shall ensure that this status quo is maintained till the next date,” it added.

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