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Raftaar Media Pvt Ltd. v/s Noida Software Technology Park Ltd.

    Civil Appeal No. 10799 of 2014

    Decided On, 28 February 2017

    At, Supreme Court of India

    By, THE HONOURABLE MR. JUSTICE DIPAK MISRA & THE HONOURABLE MR. JUSTICE A.M. KHANWILKAR

    For the Appellant: Arvind Verma, Sr. Advocate, Rajesh K. Singh, S. Mohanty, R. Verma, R.V. Kameshwaran, Advocates. For the Respondent: Gautam Narayan, AOR.



Judgment Text

1. The appellant, a company incorporated under the Companies Act, 1956 and engaged in the business of broadcasting its news channel 'Raftaar News' had entered into an agreement as the respondent who was providing the up-linking facilities and transponder services to the appellant from its gateway at Greater NOIDA. The agreement lays the stipulation for payment of charges amounting to Rs.4,80,000/- (Rupees four lac eighty thousand only) per month for the services provided by the respondent. As there was default, the Respondent No.1 disconnected the satellite services.

2. Challenging the disconnection, the appellant approached the Telecoms Disputes Settlement Appellant Tribunal (TDSAT) for seeking reconnection and also damages because of such disconnection. The respondent, in its turn, filed a counter claim for realisation of the outstanding dues amounting to Rs.27,97,318/- (Rupees twenty seven lac ninety seven thousand three hundred and eighteen only) along with interest @ 18% per annum. The TDSAT, on the basis of the material brought on record and upon hearing the learned counsel for the parties, opined that the disconnection was justified inasmuch the appellant was put to notice by the service provider. That apart, it also held that the disconnection had been done in terms with the stipulations in the agreement and the claim of the company for damages was absolutely unjustified.

3. Adverting to the counter claim lodged by the respondent, the TDSAT referred to the amount due from the appellant, various cheques issued from time to time, the clauses in the Memorandum of Understanding and opined that it was entitled to Rs.25,60,006/-. Thereafter, the TDSAT referred to clause 16(c) which reads as follows :-

"The Broadcaster agreed to make the payment promptly and not later than 15 days of the due date. In case of delay in payments, the Broadcaster shall be liable to pay interest @ 18% per annum."

4. On that basis, it granted 18% interest.

5. We have heard Mr. Arvind Verma, learned senior counsel, along with Mr. R.V. Kameshwaram, learned counsel for the appellant and Ms. Ruchika Goyal, learned counsel for the respondent.

6. On a perusal of the order passed by the TDSAT, we find that the conclusion that has been arrived at by it with regard to the justification of disconnection by the respondent, cannot be found fault with. It has analysed the default at length by the appellant and come to a definite conclusion that there was default by it and the disconnection had been done in accordance with clause 17 of the agreement. Therefore, on the said score, we concur with the view expressed by the Tribunal.

7. As far as the counter claim is concerned, the Tribunal has declined to accept the claim of Rs.59,328/- which was made by the respondent towards service tax. The TDSAT has ruled that the same had been erroneously charged and accordingly declined to allow the same. As the respondent has not preferred any appeal with regard to such non-allowance of the claim, we need not revert to the same. As far as the quantification of the amount payable by the appellant to the respondent is concerned, that has been appositely done as is manifest from the factual analysis and hence, does not require any interference.

8. The next aspect pertains to levy of interest. Clause 16 (c) which has been reproduced here in above, stipulates that the broadcasters shall be liable to pay interest @ 18% per annum. Mr. Arvind Verma, learned senior counsel for the appellant submitted that the interest amount may be reduced keeping in view the financial condition of the appellant. Ms. Ruchika Goyal, learned counsel appearing for the respondent opposed the same.

9. Having considered the submissions of learned counsel for the parties, we think, in the facts and circumstance

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s of the case, the interest should be reduced to 12% per annum and accordingly it is directed that the amount awarded by the TDSAT along with 12% interest be computed and be paid to the respondent within eight weeks hence. Needless to say, if there is any amount deposited with the respondent towards security, the same shall be adjusted. 10. The appeal is disposed of accordingly. There shall be no order as to costs.
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