SC notice on pleas against HC order upholding TRAI tariff order for TV broadcasters

New Delhi:-
The Supreme Court on Wednesday issued a notice on a batch of appeals filed by Indian Broadcasting Foundation and other broadcasters challenging the Bombay High Court judgment upholding Telecom Regulatory Authority of India’s (TRAI’s) regulatory power in relation to amendments to the tariff order.

However, a bench headed by Chief Justice N.V. Ramana refrained from issuing an interim order in the matter, for now.

Senior advocate Mukul Rohatgi, representing one of the petitioners, argued that the price of channels cannot be regulated under any provision of law and this right is protected under Article 19(1)(g).

The bench also comprising Justices Surya Kant and Aniruddha Bose, said: “We have to issue notice and senior counsel don’t have to labour on it.”

The bench further added that it will not pass an interim order in the matter today. The top court has listed the matter for further hearing on September 7, to consider interim order.

The top court was hearing an appeal challenging the judgment of the Bombay High Court which partially upheld the validity of the New Tariff Order (NTO) issued by TRAI in January 2020 prescribing price ceilings on the rates charged by television channels.

In June, the high court, while upholding the NTO, had struck down one of the pricing conditions as unconstitutional.

The high court upheld the constitutional validity of the NTO of the TRAI published by it in January, 2020 except for one of the conditions regarding pricing and clarified that TRAI will not take any “coercive action” against non-compliance by the broadcasters for another six weeks.