Report on Shemaroo

TRAI moves Bombay HC requesting early decision on NTO 2.0 case

It has requested the listing of the matter within this month

KOLKATA: It has been more than a year without any clarity on the amended new tariff order (NTO 2.0) as the case is still sub-judice. In this regard, the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) has written to Bombay high court requesting urgent listing of the case, so that a verdict may be passed soon in the matter.

The authority has requested the case be listed within this month so “that the urgency involved and the need for an early decision can be explained and an earnest request be made that the order in this case be pronounced at the earliest possible dates.”

An industry source close to the developments in the court said: "With this filing of application before the Bombay high court, the newly appointed chairman of TRAI, PD Vaghela has made it clear that the authority seeks to implement NTO 2.0 as soon as possible. This is also in consumer interest as it makes available greater choice at better prices to subscribers. It's high time that broadcasters avoid any further litigation and focus on dealing with digital disruption.”

TRAI’s decision to implement NTO 2.0 in the beginning of 2020 came as a shocker for the broadcasting industry. In an unprecedented move, all major broadcasters came together to challenge the new tariff regime in court. Following continuous hearings from the end of February to early March 2020, the judgment was reserved on 4 March, after which the lockdown was imposed. A praecipe dated 15 June was filed by TRAI for the verdict. Post that, the matter was heard throughout September- October. The parties in conflict have wrapped up their arguments and written submissions have also been filed.

The authority has defended its decision saying the amendments will usher in better consumer offerings. On the other hand, the industry stated the over-interference of TRAI, especially in the area of pricing, is hurting the stability of the sector. TRAI released directives for immediate implementation of NTO 2.0 even during the pandemic, which was restrained by the Bombay high court.

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