Justice N Santosh Hegde joins in as TDSAT chairperson

MUMBAI: Former Supreme Court judge, Justice N Santosh Hegde, has become the chairman of Telecom Disputes Settlement and Appellate Tribunal (TDSAT)after the retirement of Justice D P Wadhava

Hegde took up his new assignment on 4 July. Wadhava had retired from the post on 4 May.

According to TDSAT sources, political lobbying had been initiated for the appointment of chairman of TDSAT.

Justice Hegde comes with a prior understanding of the intricate broadcasting and cable industry as he had headed a five-member Constitution Bench, which heard a Zee Telefilms vs Indian cricket board case relating to rights of domestic cricket.

Apart from various telecom related issues, TDSAT has to attend to petitions on the must-provide clause, which has caused much heartburn in the broadcast industry.

One such case that was filed during Justice Wadhava's term related to MTV's unwillingness to come on to the Dish TV direct-to-home platform.

TDSAT no longer has to attend to FM licence fee as the government has firmed up its views on the matter and a cabinet decision has been taken to his effect.

Besides the chairman, the other members on the TDSAT bench are former secretary to the government of India Vindo Vasih and Lt Gen D P Sehgal (retd).

As per the Act pertaining to the formation of TDSAT, the government follows the recommendation of the Chief Justice of India in the appointment of chairman for the disputes tribunal. The final decision, however, is that of the Appointments Committee of Cabinet.

It is under the chairperson's supervision that TDSAT was established under Section 14 of the Trai Act to adjudicate matters concerning telecommunications.

Early last year, just before the general elections, broadcasting and cable services were re-designated as telecom services, thus bring industry disputes under the jurisdiction of TDSAT.

The disputes tribunal is empowered to adjudicate any dispute between a licensor and a licensee, between two or more service providers, and between a service provider and a group of consumers.

The apellate tribunal came in to existence on 29 May 2000 and started hearing cases from January 2001. Former Supreme Court judge Justice Suhas C Sen was appointed its first chairperson.

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