Regulators

Star - TRAI copyright case: In dramatic turn, Madras HC judges withdraw

NEW DELHI: The case by Star India and Vijay TV challenging the jurisdiction of the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India in the matter of tariff orders took a surprising turn when the two judges -- Justice S Nagamuthu and Justice Anita Sumanth recused themselves from the case and referred it to the chief justice for being referred to another bench.

Though it was not clear, it appeared that the two judges had received a letter which prompted them to withdraw from the case. The petition had been filed by Star India and Vijay TV under the Copyright Act on the ground that TRAI could not give any directive that will affect the content since that did not fall in its purview.

Meanwhile, counsel opined that, as the pleadings were completed, the new bench will get down to hearing the arguments. Arguments had commenced on behalf of the Union Government until lunch yesterday and the matter was thereafter adjourned to today.

Last week, Star India and Vijay TV decided not to press for their pleas for extension of the tariff order following TRAI's announcement that its tariff regulations which were slated to come into effect on 2 April were being deferred to 2 May 2017. The court had fixed the matter for further hearing on 3 April even as TRAI counsel commenced his arguments following the conclusion of the arguments by the broadcasters over two days commencing last Friday.

After TRAI counsel concludes his argument, the court will hear the counsel of All India Digital Cable Federation which was allowed to intervene in the matter. Earlier, on 3 March, the regulator had issued three regulations after getting a directive from the Supreme Court on its appeal against a stay granted by the Madras High Court. While granting the appeal, the apex court also asked the high court to conclude hearing in 60 days.

Apart from the Tariff order which had originally been issued on 10 October last year, the regulator also issued the DAS Interconnect Regulations which had been issued on 14 October last year, and the Standards of Quality of Service and Consumer Protection (Digital Addressable Systems) Regulations which had been issued on 10 October last year. The orders can be seen at:

http://trai.gov.in/sites/default/files/Tariff_Order_English_3%20March_20...

http://www.trai.gov.in/sites/default/files/QOS_Regulation_03_03_2017.pdf

http://www.trai.gov.in/sites/default/files/Interconnection_Regulation_03...

Follwing these regulations, the broadcasters had filed an amended petition and TRAI had also replied to the same last week. Concluding his arguments for the broadcasters, senior counsel P Chidambaram argued that TRAI’s action of fixing tariff for TV content was in violation of the Copyright Act. He also submitted that TRAI did not have the jurisdiction to fix tariff since the exploitation of IPR was part of the Copyright Act.

Also read:

TRAI extends tariff regulations execution date, Madras High court arguments to continue

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