The Delhi government had no business stopping the power regulator from issuing a tariff order last year and the private power companies should not have approached the government to intervene in the matter, the Delhi high court said on Monday in its judgement in the tariff case.
The court called actions of both parties "subterfuge" and "an innovative game play with the law." Discoms' chief executives were present in the courtroom. Not pulling any punches, the court said that the discoms had behaved as if they were children who could approach the government "like going to a laboratory to play a game of minor experimental science".
It also issued warning to the power companies about such behaviour in the future. "We hope… the companies shall behave with responsibility keeping in mind the interest of the citizens and not to be obsessed with their own interest in singularity ostracising statutory paradigms of law. This is a caution for the future," the court said.
The court refrained from directing the Delhi Electricity Regulatory Commission (DERC) from passing last year's draft tariff order because, it said, the movement of the files showed that the order was not ready — members, chairman and staff were in disagreement and still exchanging notings and files among themselves splitting hair over bureaucratise even though the actual mathematical calculations over the aggregate revenue requirements of the discoms and public hearing on them were long over.
Thanks to this, Delhiites probably missed the chance to get lower power tariff by a whisker, although the court did not say that tariff would have been lowered for sure since the commission could have changed its mind and there was no way of knowing that it wouldn't have.
The court has also rapped the DERC for creating confusion regarding the whole tariff determination process.
Fresh process to benefit consumers?
Civil society members who take part in the tariff public hearing every year said that the discoms would not be able to escape lower tariff because the data that was submitted in their aggregate revenue requirement filed with the DERC early 2010 could not be changed.
"Since the audited accounts of the discoms for that period would remain the same, we can assume that the outcome will not be different. In any case, civil society members will oppose any wrong tactics in the new public hearing," said SK Maheshwari, member of a delegation from east Delhi that had submitted objections to the discoms' revenue requirements last year.