Home / Industry / Media /  Bombay HC dismisses plea of broadcasters on jurisdictional grounds

MUMBAI– The Bombay High Court in its order on Friday dismissed petitions filed by Asianet Star Communications Pvt Ltd, Star India Pvt Ltd and Disney Broadcasting (India) Pvt Ltd and said that it will not intervene in the matter on grounds of territorial jurisdiction.

The matter pertains to the three media companies—Asianet, Star India and Disney, that approached the Bombay High Court against a 28 February order of the CCI that ordered an investigation under section 26(1) of the Competition Act 2002 by the Director General.

Section 26 (1) states that on receipt of a complaint or a reference from the central government or a state government or a statutory authority or on its own knowledge or information, under section 19, if the Commission is of the opinion that there exists a prima facie case, it shall direct the director general to cause an investigation to be made into the matter.

A bench led by Justice SV Gangapurwala and Justice Madhav J Jamdar held that “It is no gain saying on the part of the petitioners that the Competition Commission of India (CCI) is a national regulatory having jurisdiction all over India and as such the petition can be filed here in Mumbai. In view of that, we are not inclined to entertain the writ petitions on the ground of territorial jurisdiction. The case stands disposed of".

The senior counsels representing all the media firms requested that the interim order passed on 6 April be continued for a period of two weeks. Essentially, Justice GS Patel in his 6 April order directed the CCI to not take any coercive action against the media firms until further orders.

On Friday the court said that “Considering that the order dated 6th April 2022 was in force for almost five months, the same is continued for a period of 10 days from today. Needless to state, on lapse of 10 days, said protection shall come to an end".

The CCI order of February was based on a complaint filed by Asianet Digital Network Pvt Ltd (ADNPL), a distributor that provided TV digital services in Kerala , Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh.

In fact, ADNPL claimed before the court that the three broadcasters had abused their position of dominance in the market by providing significant discounts through cashback to Kerala Communicators Cables Ltd, a direct competitor of ADNPL.

On the jurisdictional aspect, the anti-trust watchdog argued that the informant was based out of Kerala, the consumer base is entirely in the State of Kerala. No part of the cause of action has arisen in the state of Maharashtra, entitling the petitioner to file the writ petitions in this court.

It further submitted that the petitioners’ reference to CCI being a national regulator was irrelevant. The application of the Competition Act in this case is to the geographical market in the State of Kerala. Section 19 of the 2002 Act provides that the relevant geographical market has to be identified in such proceedings. The alleged anti-competitive conduct took place in the State of Kerala and not outside.

 

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Priyanka Gawande

Priyanka Gawande is a senior legal correspondent at Mint. She has worked as legal reporter for four years with both television and digital mediums. Based in Mumbai, she reports on disputes across sectors including banking, corporates and finance. This also includes insolvency and bankruptcy cases and intellectual property rights (IPR) litigation. Her focus also comprises tracking capital markets and disputes relating to securities law. Previously, Priyanka worked with Informist Media for 2.5 years covering major insolvency and bankruptcy cases and corporate developments. She started her career in journalism with Business Television India (BTVi) where she reported on primary markets, banking, finance and insurance companies.
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