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TDSAT to hear DTH licence fee case on 12 Oct as SC disposes of appeals

MUMBAI: The Telecom Disputes
Settlement & Appellate Tribunal
(TDSAT) is set to hear the direct-to-
home (DTH) licence fee case once
again after the Supreme Court
disposed of the appeals filed by Tata
Sky and Union government on 27
August. The matter has been put up
for hearing on 12 October.
In the previous hearing on 24
February, the tribunal had passed an
order stating that it would not
proceed with hearing of these
petitions as it might lead to
conflicting orders.
The DTH operators had challenged the
Ministry of Information &
Broadcasting’s (MIB) notices issued in
March 2014 demanding Rs 2,066 crore
(Rs 20.66 billion) in licence fee dues.
During the hearing in the TDSAT, Tata
Sky counsel Salman Khurshid stated
that the petition was on a very limited
issue of imposition of interest.
Though the DTH operator was making
all payments to the government, the
government had imposed interest on
those payments, he had argued.
“By order dated 24.2.2015, the
hearing of this batch of cases was
adjourned sine die awaiting disposal of
some connected appeals before the
Supreme Court,” the tribunal said in
its brief order.
“We are informed that the appeals
before the Supreme Court are now
disposed of by order dated 27.8.2015
and there is no longer any impediment
before the tribunal in hearing this
In its order dated 27 August, the
Supreme Court bench of Justices
Vikramajit Sen and Shiva Kirti Singh
had allowed the appeal filed by the
Union government and dismissed the
appeal filed by Tata Sky following a
plea by Tata Sky counsel Harish N
Salve had stated that the issues
raised in these appeals were
conclusively covered in principle
against his client in the telecom AGR
The bench also disposed of all the
pending applications in these appeals.
However, the bench clarified that the
disposal of these appeals should not be
construed as having determined the
quantum and interest that is pending
adjudication before the TDSAT.
“We make it clear that the dismissal
of these applications that sought
impleadment and tagging in the
appeals disposed of today shall be
without prejudice to the pending
applications before the TDSAT,” the
bench said in its order.
The TDSAT had granted interim relief
to the DTH operators by preventing
the MIB from pressing for its claim of
pending licence fee dues. The DTH
operators had challenged the licence
fee demand on the ground that the
matter was pending before the
Supreme Court.
The MIB had demanded licence fee
based on 10 per cent of adjusted gross
revenue (AGR) formula, which is a
major point of contention between
the government and the DTH
companies. The DTH operators had
argued that licence fee should be paid
only on subscription revenue and not
on allied earnings such as dividend and
interest income.
Even as the matter was pending in the
TDSAT, sector regulator Telecom
Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI)
had come out with fresh
recommendations that licence fee
should be charged based on eight per
cent of AGR, which would be calculated
by excluding service tax,
entertainment tax, and sales tax/VAT
paid to the government from the gross
As part of its recommendations on
‘Issues related to new DTH licences’,
which are pending before the
government for approval, the
authority had also recommended
increasing licence period of a DTH
operator to 20 years.

TDSAT to hear DTH licence fee case on 12 Oct as SC disposes of appeals

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