TDSAT admits Sun Direct’s plea challenging TRAI’s 1 May direction to DTH ops

MUMBAI: The Telecom Disputes Settlement and Appellate Tribunal (TDSAT) has admitted direct to home (DTH) operator Sun Direct petition challenging the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India’s (TRAI) direction to DTH operators on 1st May.

It is pertinent to note that the Delhi High Court has already stayed the TRAI direction on petitions filed by DTH operators. The TRAI had directed DTH operators to reinstate their old packs/plans for long duration pack (LDP) subscribers and also to desist from migrating any more LDP subscribers to the new tariff regime.

In its brief order, the tribunal has clarified that the other directions in paragraph 16 will remain in abeyance since the other sub-paragraphs of paragraph-16 relate to issues which appear to be common leading to order of the High Court.

It also asked Sun Direct to address itself to the specific issues mentioned in part of paragraph 15 and comply with the directions in 16(a) in the earliest possible time.

In paragraph 15 of its direction, the authority had noted that Sun Direct TV has migrated/changed the long term plans of the subscribers and is also forcefully offering free-to-air (FTA) channels with no choice to subscribers, in addition to the channels opted by them and that the subscribers are not able to re-exercise their choice.

In the directions in paragraph 16(a), the authority has directed Sun Direct to resolved the issues mentioned at para 15 above and adhere to the provisions of the new regulatory framework.

“We have found a prima facie case in favour of the appellant (Sun Direct) and, therefore, the appeal is admitted for hearing. No notice need be issued as the respondent has appeared on advance notice,” TDSAT said in its order.

It directed the TRAI file reply, if any, within six weeks. Rejoinder, if any, may be filed within four weeks thereafter. The matter has been posted under the same head ‘For Directions’ on 26th August.

On the last date, the tribunal had heard the parties but on the request of the TRAI, the matter was postponed for today. The tribunal stated that it now has the benefit of an order passed by the High Court of Delhi.

The high court had considered the Writ Petition as well as some applications filed by one or the other parties and after recording its prima facie views, has passed an interim order prohibiting the respondent TRAI from taking action on Show Cause Notice dated 23rd January and has kept in abeyance the subsequent directions of TRAI issued vide letter dated 1st May.

In the present appeal, the directions of 1st May have been impugned and ordinarily that has to be kept in abeyance in view of order of the High Court noticed above, the tribunal noted.

TRAI counsel took the tribunal through paragraph 15 of the impugned direction as well as direction no. (a) under paragraph 16 to point out that there is a specific issue noted in respect of only the appellant Sun Direct TV that among other things it is also forcefully sending “Free to Air” channels with no choice to subscribers in addition to the channels opted by the subscribers and as a result, the subscribers are not able to re-exercise their choice.

According to learned counsel for TRAI, the directions in sub-para (a) of paragraph 16 relate only to the above specific complaint against the appellant and the direction is really innocuous because it directs the appellant to resolve the said issue also and thus adhere to the provisions of the tariff order of 2017 and also the relevant Regulations of 2017.

Sun Direct counsel has claimed that the appellant is already in compliance with the tariff and regulations as pointed out in paragraph 16 of the Regulations.

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