Stay continues in Karnataka and Gujarat as courts adjourn hearing to 10 April

NEW DELHI/BENGALURU: The stay on digitisation of cable television will continue in six cities of Gujarat and Karnataka as the High Courts in both the states decided to continue hearing tomorrow of the petitions filed against the digital addressable system (DAS) on the ground of shortage of set top boxes (STBs).

The stay on switching off analogue signals has been put off till further orders in the cities of Ahmedabad, Rajkot, Surat, and Vadodara as the counsel for the Union of India could not appear for the hearing due to personal reasons. The matter has been adjourned for tomorrow.

Justice Rajesh Shukla of the Gujarat High Court directed the petitioner Cable Operators Association of Gujarat through its president Pramod Pandya to file by tomorrow his rejoinder to the affidavit filed by the Information & Broadcasting ministry.

Justice S Abdul Nazeer of the Karnataka High Court also extended the stay in Bengaluru and Mysore after the hearing writ petition filed by the Karnataka State Cable TV Operators Association (KSCOA) remained inconclusive. The hearing will continue tomorrow.

The petitioners, Karnataka State Cable TV Operators (KSCOA), and one set of respondents -the MSOs‘ legal representatives - finished their arguments in the matter that ran throughout the day.

It is now the turn of the other respondents - the Union of India through I&B ministry and the Indian Broadcasting Foundation (IBF) to present their arguments against the writ petition tomorrow.

The IBF has impleaded itself as a party in both Gujarat and Karnataka, primarily to argue that there should be no delay in implementation of DAS.

In its petition, the Cable Operators Association of Gujarat has said that there is shortage of set top boxes and no clarity on acquisition of these boxes.

The Government has already switched off the analogue television signals in Phase II from the midnight of 31 March.

Pandya said over phone from Ahmedabad that STBs ordered from China had failed to arrive because of internal problems in that country and therefore the local cable operators could not be penalized for this.

As reported earlier, KSCOA filed a writ petition against the implementation of the second phase of the Digital Addressable System (DAS) that was to be implemented on 1 April onwards in Bengaluru. Other petitions filed against DAS in Mysore and some other LCOs were clubbed together.

Meanwhile, digitisation has also been stayed in Hyderabad and Vishakhapatnam and the case is coming up for hearing before the Andhra Pradesh High Court next week.

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