The row over fixing of new power tariff for Delhi following allegations that government had “scuttled” reduced rates approved by DERC took a new twist with the Delhi High Court questioning the entire process being followed.
Considering the “gravity” of the issue, chief justice Dipak Misra and justice Manmohan directed attorney general of India to appear on December 1 and assist the court.
A PIL accused government of succumbing to pressure from discoms and “prohibiting release of new tariff approved by DERC” on April 29, 2010, which it claimed would have been lesser than the present rate. It said the DERC told the government the discoms were sitting on a combined cash profit of over R300 crore per month and it was time to reduce the power rates.
The government denied the allegations, saying no decision was taken so far due to serious differences between the chairman and members of the DERC. “What has been recommended was just the opinion of the chairman without mandatory backing of members,” it said. Apparently one of the members had changed his opinion later.
When petitioner's lawyer Prashant Bhushan said since two of the three members
decided on tariff and it had to be taken as a majority view, Justice Manmohan said, “We take serious view of the U-turn by one of the members. It is not expected from people holding such high posts. We will look into it.”
Delhi government standing counsel Najmi Waziri told the court that state government had the jurisdiction to interfere with a decision taken by the DERC.
A Delhi government letter to the DERC on July 19, 2010, states “it is clear that matter of statutory advice (if discoms were in financial loss) was not taken up in the commission meeting and two other members have not endorsed chairperson's advise. So chairperson’s advice may be treated as personal advice and not that of the commission”.
The government accused the DERC of not adhering to national tariff policy as per which "uncontrollable costs" such as price of power bought from other states during peak season needed to considered.
“It can have serious consequences on the supply in Delhi.” The government says there was a limit to government subsidies. As per the policy, "uncontrollable costs should be recovered speedily to ensure that future consumers are not burdened with past costs”.