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SC fast-tracks stay & hearing of ESPN, Star victory vs Doordarshan ahead of cricket world cup

The Supreme Court stayed, until Tuesday, the Delhi high court’s order that had banned Prasar Bharti from airing certain sports matches on cable.

Prasar Bharti had, through attorney general Mukul Rohatgi, appealed against the high court’s order that was passed last week.

Rohatgi, assisted by lawyers Rajiv Sharma and Sahil Bhalaik, appeared for the state broadcaster and argued that the high court judgment violated the law that Doordarshan gets access to sporting events of national importance and that the channel must be carried by all cable TV networks. He asserted that the Delhi high court judgment was against the Sports Act and Cable TV Network Act and was also contrary to public interest.

Senior advocate P Chidambram had been briefed by Saikrishna Associates for Star Sports and ESPN and senior advocate Salman Khursheed was appearing for Nimbus. The defendants argued that in some cases, if the high court’s judgment was reversed they would face huge, adverse financial implications.

Justice Ranjan Gogoi heard the matter at 2pm today and stayed the high court’s order until Tuesday on the ground that it has been the position since 2007 that Prasar Bharti’s sports broadcasts are aired on all cable TV networks.

One of the lawyers appearing in the matter told Legally India that the Supreme Court was initially inclined to post the next date of hearing for six weeks from today but in view of the upcoming ICC Cricket World Cup, fixed Tuesday as the next date of hearing. On Tuesday the court will hear both sides at length to decide whether the interim relief prayed for by Prasar Bharti – a stay on the high court order – can be granted.

The ICC Cricket World Cup begins on Saturday and an Indo-Pak one day international is scheduled for before Tuesday. This match will be aired on all cable TV networks as well.

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