Delhi HC issues notices on PIL challenging section 3(1) of Sports Act

PIL against free access to sporting events being restricted to DD networks: HC seeks Centre's reply

The Delhi High Court has sought the Centre’s response on Friday on a Public Interest Litigation challenging a provision of the Sports Act that restricts transmission of live broadcast of sporting events of national importance by Prasar Bharti to its terrestrial and DTH networks.

A bench of Chief Justice Rajendra Menon and Justice A J Bhambhani issued notice to the Centre, Prasar Bharti and the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) seeking their stand on the plea, which has contended that the restriction defeats the purpose of the Sports Act — to enable everyone to access such sporting events free of cost.

The court, however, declined the request of the petitioner, Vaibhav Jain, for an early hearing and listed the matter on July 22, saying there was no urgency.

Jain’s lawyers had sought an early hearing in view of the 2019 Cricket World Cup scheduled to be hosted by England and Wales from May 30 to July 14.

The petition has sought setting aside of section 3(1) of the Sports Broadcasting Signals (Mandatory Sharing with Prasar Bharati) Act of 2007, also known as the Sports Act, to the extent it restricts retransmission of live broadcasting of sporting events of national importance by Doordarshan (DD) to its terrestrial and Direct-to-Home (DTH) networks.

The plea has claimed that the restriction defeats the entire purpose behind enacting the Sports Act as the provision under challenge is against public interest.

Jain has contended that section 3(1) of the Act prevents citizens from freely accessing sporting events of national importance on any other digital platform except the terrestrial and DTH networks of DD.

He has further said that the citizens cannot stream the sporting events on their laptops, computers or mobile phones free of cost, despite having internet or data facilities.