Does Delhi govt have power to put on hold DERC decision? HC

Last Updated: Wednesday, October 27, 2010 - 21:56

New Delhi: The Delhi High Court on Wednesday sought
the assistance of the Attorney General on a question whether
the NCT government has the power to issue any direction to
Delhi Electricity Regulatory Commission(DERC) to put on hold
its decision on approved tariff for the year 2010-2011.

"Whether the state government has power to interdict
any statutory commission by issuing directions not to release
its decision on tariff... Does it come under the ambit of NCT
government? We want a clarity from the Attorney General as the
Electricity Act 2003 is a central legislation," said a
Division Bench of Chief Justice Dipak Misra and Justice
Manmohan and sought the top law officer`s assistance.
The Bench`s order came following an argument of
Additional Solicitor General A S Chandhoke that no decision
was taken by three members of the DERC on tariff and the
state has the power to issue such a direction to the
Commission.

Initially, the court was under the impression that the
stand taken by ASG Chandhoke was in defence of the NCT
government but later the bench was informed that he was
appearing not in his official capacity for the state
government but his argument was for NDPL, the private
distribution company.

In the previous hearing, the Bench had directed the
members of DERC to convene a meeting and intimate it about
their decision over the current year`s approved tariff.

The Bench had made it clear that the Commission would
inform if there was any dissenting opinion by any of its
members.

The Bench was hearing a PIL seeking a direction to the
city government, which has allegedly succumbed to the pressure
of DISCOMS to hike tariff and asked DERC not to make public
its approved tariff for the current year, to vacate the stay
on the Commission`s approved tariff for the current year.

According to Nand Kishor Garg, the petitioner, the
Commission has fixed the hike of tariff to 40 per cent basing
on the annual revenue return filed by the DISCOMS according to
which the companies have generated a surplus amount of Rs 3577
crore.
The Commission had approved the tariff for government to
issue for this year but on May 1 the DISCOMS made a
representation to the government seeking a hike of existing
tariff from 50 to 70 per cent, Garg said.

He further said the decision was taken by the
Commission but one of the three members was to sign on it in
April this year. However, before its release, the state
government intervened and stayed the approved tariff in May,
which was illegal and arbitrary.

As per the PIL, the government withheld the approved
tariff basing on the demand by DISCOMS for hike despite the
fact that power distributing companies have generated a huge
profit on an average of Rs 300 crore per month from the
consumers.

Later, DERC had sought legal opinion from the
Solicitor General of India who opined that the government`s
direction was not mandatory for the Commission as it is a
statutory body.

In the light of the legal opinion by the law officer,
the petition sought a court direction to vacate the stay on
the Commission`s decision.

PTI



First Published: Wednesday, October 27, 2010 - 21:56

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