SC transfers Sun Direct’s DTH licence fee case to itself

MUMBAI: The Supreme Court has allowed Union of India’s (UOI) petition to transfer all direct to home (DTH) licence fee case from the Kerala High Court to itself.

The UOI had filed a petition in the SC for transfer of the Sun Direct case to the apex court.

“Having heard the learned counsel for the parties and gone through these transfer petitions filed under Article 139A of the Constitution of India and considering the facts and circumstances of the case, we deem it fit and proper to transfer the matters mentioned in Prayer (a) of the Transfer Petitions from the High Court of Kerala at Ernakulam to this Court,” Justice Arun Mishra and Justice Ravindra Bhat stated.

The bench also directed the registry to immediately transmit a copy of this order to the High Court of Kerala.

In 2015, Sun Direct had secured relief from the Kerala High Court against the ministry of information and broadcasting’s (MIB) demand to pay licence fee on the gross revenue.

The Kerala High Court had accepted Sun Direct’s plea for directing the government to accept licence fee payment only on licensed activities till the disposal of the petition. The HC had also directed the government not to take coercive action against the DTH operator till the disposal of the matter.

Apart from Sun Direct, Dish TV had also secured relief from the Jammu & Kashmir on the licence fee issue. In the case of Dish TV, the J&K High Court had passed an order stating that the petitioner (Dish TV) will continue to make payments of licence fee on the basis of the judgement passed by Telecom Disputes Settlement and Appellate Tribunal (TDSAT) on 28 May 2010.

The tribunal had passed an order on 28 May 2010 allowing Sun Direct and Bharati Telemedia’s (Airtel Digital TV) petitions entitling them to the benefit of the judgments passed by it on 7 July 2006, 30 August 2006 and 26 August 2008 as also the recommendations of the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) dated 1 October 2004.

The sum and substance of these orders are that the license fees for DTH operators should be applied on the basis of adjusted gross revenue which means total revenues excluding items that are of a pass-through nature.

In March 2014, the MIB had asked them to fork out Rs 20.66 billion in licence fee dues. The DTH operators had challenged the MIB’s 24th March 2014 notice in the Telecom Disputes Settlement and Appellate Tribunal (TDSAT).

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