TDSAT disposes of Home Cable’s application in inflation-linked tariff hike matter

The Telecom Disputes Settlement and Appellate Tribunal (TDSAT) has disposed of multi system operator (MSO) Home Cable Network’s application as withdrawn following the MSO’s decision to withdraw the application.

Home Cable had filed an application under broadcasting appeal 2 of 2014 against Telecom Regulatory Authority of India’s (TRAI) decision to allow 27.5% inflation-linked tariff hike for non-addressable platforms.

In its application, the MSO had requested the tribunal to pass an order directing the regulator to take action and issue directions on representation dated 29.12.2017 and 09.05.2018 respectively in a time-bound manner calling up the various stakeholders of the broadcasting industry to furnish separate statement of accounts allegedly maintained with reference to the amount collected on account of Eleventh TAO and the Thirteenth TAO by virtue of order dated 29.5.2014 passed by this Tribunal in the Appeals bearing no. 1(C) of 2014 and 2(C) of 2014.

The tribunal noted that there is no dispute over the fact that appeals bearing no. 1(C) of 2014 and the present appeal in which an interim order was passed on 29.5.2014 have been finally disposed of through the judgment dated 28.4.2015.

The TDSAT had set aside the TRAI’s inflation tariff hike and had asked the broadcasters will now have to refund the additional amount they have collected from distribution platforms as a result of the tariff hike.

The tribunal’s decision was overturned by the Supreme Court after it was challenged by the broadcasters. The apex court had stated that the distribution platform operators (DPOs) cannot insist for a refund of the amount already collected by broadcasters till the matter is finally adjudicated.

The order also permitted TRAI to reconsider the matter in the light of observations in judgment and order of this tribunal so as to pass a fresh order.

Home Cable’s prayer in the application was based upon an interim order which has definitely merged in the final judgment passed on 28.4.2015. Even the appeal against the said judgment has been disposed of with certain observations.

Faced with the issue as to whether this tribunal has become functus officio after the final judgment and order on appeal passed by the Apex Court in respect of a prayer based upon an interim order, which no longer exists, learned counsel for the Home Cable withdrew the application with liberty to seek remedy in accordance with law from the appropriate forum. The prayer is allowed.

The application was disposed of as withdrawn with the aforesaid liberty.