Regulators

Chief Justice of MHC to hear Star India case against TRAI under Copyright Act

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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, which has taken surprising turns with three judges recusing themselves from the hearings, Is now coming up anew for hearing before the Chief Justice Indira Banerjee of the Madras High Court on 24 April.

The All India Digital Cable Federation has filed its intervention in the case which has been filed as a fresh petition by Star India and Vijay TV and it has been numbered WP MP 11131/2017.

The fresh petition became necessary as the matter is being heard afresh by the Chief Justice. Star India SVP – Legal and Regulatory – Pulak Bagchi confirmed that while the primary case remained on the grounds of the Copyright Act remained the same, a new petition had been filed because it was coming up before the Chief Justice.  

The case had taken a surprising turn early this month 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. Another judge -- Justice Govind Rajan -- also recused himself earlier this week.

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.

Last month, 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.

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...

Following 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.

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