Hearing against 9 Jan Trai notification on 14 April

NEW DELHI: Fixing 14 April as the next date of hearing, the Delhi High Court today directed the centre, Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) and Star India to respond to a petition seeking to quash a government notification by which broadcasting services were made part of the telecommunication services under the Trai Act.

Justice Manmohan Sarin told the respondents to reply within ten days and the petitioner, a Maharashtra-based cable operator Saisagar Cable Network, to file its rejoinder within a week thereafter, and fixed 14 April as the next date of hearing, United News of India reported today.

On 26 February, Justice S K Kaul had issued a notice on the plea that alleged that the notification dated 9 January was arbitrary and discriminatory towards cable operators as it took away all legal remedies available to them.

The petitioner, through counsel Ankur Talwar, said the Trai in an order on 15 January froze the rates charged by cable operators to the subscribers, multi service operators to operators (MSOs) and MSOs to broadcasters as on 26 December last year, both in respect to free-to-air and pay channels, for both CAS and non-CAS areas.

On the same day itself, Star India unilaterally discontinued the TV signal being given to the petitioners, it was alleged. Star India then entered into an agreement with another cable operator at a much higher amount, it was claimed.

The petitioner said though Star India had violated the Trai order, legal recourse was not available to it because of the notification. The petition also sought direction to the Trai to decide its complaint given to it in that regard.

Star India, through counsel Gopal Jain, on the other hand claimed the ''dispute'' pertained to its contract with the cable operator, and the agreement mentioned arbitration as the way for its resolution, the UNI report stated.

Standing counsel Sanjay Jain and counsel Meet Malhotra had accepted notices for the Union Government and Trai, respectively.

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