Delhi High Court declines to interfere on TDSAT's HITS order; Star may move SC

NEW DELHI: The Delhi High Court today said that it did not feel the need to examine whether the Telecom Disputes Settlement and Appellate Tribunal (TDSAT) had the jurisdiction to direct broadcasters to treat the headend-in-the-sky (HITS) operator Noida Software Technology Park Ltd (NSTPL) at the same level as pan-India multi-system operators (MSOs).


Justice Rajiv Sahai Endlaw said that there was a statutory provision for parties aggrieved by orders of TDSAT to go to the Supreme Court.


The judge had on 7 January reserved its orders on the petition by Star India arising out of the Tribunal’s judgment of 7 December.


The Court also agreed that all questions were open for being taken up by the Supreme Court if it is approached by the broadcaster.


Star India had filed the petition on the ground that TDSAT exceeded its jurisdiction as it did not have the authority to ‘re-write the regulation.’


A Star India spokesperson told late in the evening that the broadcaster was examining future course of action. It is understood that this includes the opening of an appeal before the apex court.


The High Court on 7 January had also said that a directive by TDSAT of 18 December asking Star India and other broadcasters to produce the kind of agreements it had with Hathway, Den and Siti Cable and listing the matter for 12 January, would stand suspended until the outcome of the High Court case.


The Court heard arguments presented by Star India and NSTPL, whose petition had been accepted on 7 December by the Tribunal, which had asked Star India and Taj TV to execute fresh agreements with NSTPL. However, TDSAT had kept the operation of the judgment pending till 31 March this year.


It had said that on past occasions as well similar suggestions were made with the hope of nudging the TRAI to take proactive steps to reduce the scope of disputes arising out of the regulations. “At the same time, the fact that regulatory intervention may be the ideal way forward cannot and should not be an excuse for this Tribunal to shirk the interpretative issues that have come before us. This is particularly so when there appears to be regulatory inertia,” TDSAT had said.


The Tribunal had, on 18 December, impleaded Zee Turner and others in another petition by Star India against NSTPL and asked the broadcasters to produce the agreements between the broadcasters and major MSOs. It opined that some agreements have to be suspended by Star and Taj TV.

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