Madras HC reserves judgement in tariff order and interconnect regulations dispute
The judgement is expected to be pronounced by the third week of August
The tariff order dispute neared its culmination on Monday with the division bench of the Madras High Court reserving its judgement in the case. Sources told exchange4media that the verdict is expected to be announced by the third week of August by Chief Justice Indira Banerjee and Justice M Sundar. The development occurred after the various parties involved in the legal battle filed their written submissions with the registry.
After the judgement was reserved, insiders who have been associated with the prolonged legal quarrel heaved a sigh of relief given the unprecedented hurdles that the case has witnessed. Given the various twists and turns in the proceedings, the Madras HC failed to keep up with the deadlines issued by the Supreme Court repeatedly. While permitting the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India to notify the regulations on March 3, the SC had directed the Madras HC to settle the case within two months.
Shortly after, however, a two-judge bench of the high court comprising Justice S Nagamuthu and Justice Anita Sumanth sought recusal from adjudicating over the matter after an anonymous petition made certain allegations of impropriety on one of the judges. Thereafter, Justice S Manikumar also refrained from presiding over the case owing to another judgement of his in a related matter which stands challenged as of now. If the recusals were not enough, the case suffered further due to certain delays.
As the apex court granted a stay order on the regulations on May 8 after the Madras HC rejected the petitioner’s plea for an interim stay on April 28, the highest court of the land told the Madras HC to hear the case on a daily basis and dispose it within four weeks from the next of hearing i.e. June 12. The matter, nevertheless, was eventually taken up only on June 27.
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Star India and Vijay TV, the two petitioners in the case, have steadfastly maintained that the regulations devised by TRAI are unconstitutional. They have also accused the regulator of overstepping its jurisdiction, a charge which the latter has vehemently repudiated. The tariff order and interconnect regulations formulated by TRAI are slated to come into effect from the month of September.
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