TDSAT rejects appeal by Malwa cable ops for interim stay on TRAI tariff order, regulations

MUMBAI: The Telecom Disputes Settlement and Appellate Tribunal (TDSAT) has rejected Malwa Cable Operator Sangh Samiti’s (MCOSS) prayer for an interim stay on Telecom Regulatory Authority of India’s (TRAI) new tariff order and regulations.

The tribunal has, however, admitted MCOSS’ petition challenging the TRAI’s new tariff order and regulations. The MCOSS has pleaded before the TDSAT to strike down the tariff order and the regulations. It has also challenged the 55:45 revenue share model between the multi system operators (MSOs) and the local cable operators (LCOs).

The matter has been posted under the same head on 16th April. The three respondents in the matter are Union of India, TRAI and Indian Broadcasting Federation (IBF).

Since the three respondents appeared on advance notice the tribunal did not issue any notice. The counsel for the MCOSS has assured that he will take required steps within a day to furnish all the documents accompanying memo of appeal to the counsels for the respondents.

On hearing the parties, the tribunal noted that some of the prayers made in this appeal run counter to the decisions already rendered by the Madras High Court and the Supreme Court. The tribunal was referring to the plea to set aside the revenue share model between the MSOs and LCOs in the new regulatory framework.

The tribunal pointed out that there is some dispute whether the issue of revenue share arrangement is covered under the Madras HC and Supreme Court orders.

It said that the prayer about revenue share arrangement may be covered by the principle of the constructive res-judicata. However, this aspect may be considered at a later stage, it stated.

The tribunal is entertaining MCOSS’ appeal mainly confined to the prayer about issuing direction to the respondents not to reduce role of the LCOs in relation to their subscribers with regard to implementation of Regulations, 2017 and to issue direction to broadcasters and MSOs to provide them necessary means and resources to ease out difficulty of consumers in implementation of New Regulations.

“We have made it clear to the parties that in the light of the aforesaid prayer, the main issue is whether there is any requirement of further directions to Broadcasters and MSOs towards implementation of the new Regulations so as to take care of difficulties of the consumers and if there is such requirement inspite of earlier directions, what should be the further directions to achieve the purpose of helping the consumers to reap the benefits of the new Regulations,” the tribunal said in the order.

TRAI counsel raised the issue of limitation, but in the facts of the case, the tribunal said it is not inclined to take a very technical plea of limitation. Limitation, if any, shall stand condoned, it added.

The tribunal also stated that other respondents may be called upon to reply or assist only after going through the stand of TRAI. The regulator was granted three weeks’ time to file its reply.

The TDSAT also called upon all parties concerned against taking this appeal as an adversorial ligitation.

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