Delhi govt has no jurisdiction on power tariff: Centre

New Delhi: The Centre today told the Delhi High Court that the NCT government has no jurisdiction to direct Delhi Electricity Regulatory Commission(DERC) to put on hold its decision on power tariff for the year 2010-2011.

Following the previous order of the court, Attorney General G E Vahanvati, appeared before a division bench of Chief Justice Dipak Misra and Justice Manmohan to assist the Bench and submitted that "under the Delhi Electricity Act, the state has no jurisdiction to pass such an order to the statutory function of the Commission".

The Bench took note of the submission made by the senior lawyer and fixed the PIL for further hearing on December 22.

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.

Earlier, raising a question whether the NCT government has any power to issue a direction to any statutory commission not to release its decision on tariff, the bench sought the AG's assistance.

According to Nand Kishore 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 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.