TDSAT refuses Discovery’s appeal for interim relief against TRAI’s 24th July NTO 2.0 directive

The Telecom Disputes Settlement and Appellate Tribunal (TDSAT) on Monday hearing Discovery Communication India’s broadcasting appeal against TRAI’s 24th July NTO 2.0 directive refused to grant any interim relief to Discovery as it is refrained from impeding into the process since the same is already challenged before the Hon’ble High Courts.

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Discovery had moved TDSAT seeking interim relief against the TRAI order dated 24th July which under section 13 of the TRAI Act seeks report from the broadcaster initially by 10th August which was extended to 26th August to give effect to Tariff Amendment Order (TAO) 2020 and Interconnection Amendment Regulation (IAR) 2020 without any further delay.

Several broadcasters have challenged TAO and IAR of 2020 in front of Hon’ble Bombay High Court while Discovery had challenged the same in front of Hon’ble Delhi High Court which could not be heard due in March to the pandemic and has now been listed for hearing on 1st October. The Hon’ble Bombay High Court which had earlier reserved orders on the interim prayer has decided that instead of passing interim order, it would prefer to hear the parties further with a view to disposing of the matter finally on merits.

Discovery on the other hand instead of approaching Delhi High Court has preferred the appeal in TDSAT. Discovery argued that TRAI should not have acted in such manner when the TAO and IAR of 2020 are challenged before the High Courts and pending. It further said that TRAI could not enforce Tariff and Regulations against all the broadcasters using Section 13.

TRAI on its part submitted that since there was no stay by the High Courts on the TAO and IAR of 2020, TRAI as a regulator was required to take appropriate steps and issue directions to ensure that it doesn’t remain in abeyance indefinitely. TRAI’s counsel further stated that similar to other broadcasters Discovery should have approached the Delhi High Court which has already issued notice and should not approach TDSAT for preventing the implementation of TAO and IAR of 2020.

TDSAT noted that the appeal would be considered on the merits after TRAI files its reply for which it has been granted four weeks’ time. The tribunal noted that the staying of TAO and IAR of 2020 should be first decided by the concerned High Courts wherein the matters are pending as it felt it would not be appropriate for it to impede the process by passing an order of interim stay.

TDSAT has refused to give any interim relief without going into the merits of the issue relating to the TAO and IAR of 2020. Discovery is open to raise relevant issues relating to the 24th July directive before the Delhi High Court.

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