The Supreme Court sent out a loud message to all client-impressing advocates – Do not file voluminous petitions to terrorise the Judges and risk getting the hearing adjourned.” Finding it difficult to go through a 51-volume appeals, each running to over 100 pages, filed by Indian Broadcasting and Digital Foundation against against a Bombay HC’s judgment rejecting its petition challenging Telecom Regulatory Authority’s New Tariff Order (NTO 2.0), a bench of Chief Justice N V Ramana and Justice Surya Kant said, “The Supreme Court engaged trucks to carry these volumes of appeals to Judges residences to enable them read it and get prepared with the matter.”
“You cannot terrorise us by filing volumes and volumes of appeals. In this case there are 51 volumes in one petition. You sit together and file a single short convenient volume giving a synopsis of the issue to be adjudicated,” the bench told senior advocates Darius Khambatta, Neeraj Kishan Kaul, Gopal Jain, Amit Sibal, who appeared for the appellants.
Solicitor general Tushar Mehta and senior advocate Rakesh Dwivedi with advocate Sanjay Kapur for TRAI said that it is a short issue and TRAI will file a two-page synopsis for the Judges’ convenience. But, the CJI-led bench said, “You wait. Let them satisfy us with the merits of their appeal.”
The bench ordered – “We direct senior counsel appearing for the petitioners in all the matters to make a convenience volume of all the documents, in consultation with senior counsel for the respondents well in advance and circulate the same.” The bench adjourned the hearing to August 18.
IBF, an umbrella organisation for TV broadcasters, has challenged a Bombay HC judgment upholding TRAI’s NTO 2.0, which set a cap of Rs 12 from the existing Rs 19 on pay channel prices. It was to ensure that an effective a-la-carte choice was available to distributors without being handicapped by perverse pricing of bouquets by broadcasters at wholesale level, said. TRAI justified its move as one in “public interest”. It had raised concerns over broadcasters creating bouquets with one or two leading channels and filling it with other less popular channels or even free-to-air channels, making it difficult for consumers to choose channels.
The bench faced a similar situation in the appeals filed by Amazon and Flipkart against a decision of Karnataka High Court allowing an antitrust probe against the e-commerce majors by the Competition Commission of India. The CCI had acted on a complaint by Delhi Vyapar Mahasangh (DVM) and Confederation of India Traders allegations that the e-commerce firms were abusing their market dominance and giving preference to select sellers and offering deep discounts after entering into anti-competitive agreements. Based on the 2019 complaint, the CCI had last year asked its director general to launch a probe into the alleged violation of Section 3 of the Competition Act.
The CJI-led bench said, “Again volumes and volumes of petitions are filed. We know it is to terrorise us and not to allow the Judges to read it.” Solicitor general Tushar Mehta said he had difficulty in going through the several volumes of petition and requested for adjournment to Monday. The CJI said, “What about us? We too need to read not only these volumes but other petitions listed before us today. But we are ready with the matter.”
Appearing for the e-commerce majors, senior advocates A M Singhvi and Sajan Poovayya agreed to file short synopsis of the appeals. SC adjourned hearing to August 9.