New Delhi: The Supreme Court has posted the final hearing on a bunch of petitions filed against the Bombay HC order regarding the implementation of the New Tariff Order (NTO) 2.0 to 30 November. In the meantime, the court has also asked the Counsel of all parties to file their written submissions before 12 November.
When the matter was last taken up for hearing on Friday, senior advocate Mukul Rohtagi appearing on behalf of the Indian Broadcasting and Digital Foundation (IBDF) put forward brief arguments based on the rejoinder filed previously by the Indian Broadcasting and Digital Foundation (IBDF). However, due to paucity of time, the arguments could not be concluded.
The Indian Broadcasting Foundation, an umbrella organisation of private TV broadcasters and a couple of other private channels had moved the SC in July against the Bombay high court judgment which had upheld the constitutionality of the NTO 2.0. According to the broadcasters, the new tariff order “impinges” on the broadcasters’ fundamental right of freedom of speech and expression under Article 19(1)(a) of the Constitution
The NTO 2.0 passed by the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) in January 2020 sought to cap the pay channel price at Rs 12 from the existing Rs 19. The move was vehemently opposed by the broadcasters, who challenged the order as “arbitrary and in violation of their fundamental right", who moved the Bombay HC against its implementation.
However, on 30 June, the Bombay HC had upheld the constitutional validity of NTO 2.0, but partly struck down the second provision of the twin conditions as “arbitrary”. As per the second provision, the a-la-carte rates of each pay channel (MRP), forming part of a bouquet, shall in no case exceed three times the average rate of a pay channel of the bouquet of which such pay channel is a part.