The Delhi high court on Wednesday gave a glimmer of hope to Delhiites who are up in arms against private power discoms seeking 60% to 80% tariff hike, which they allege are based on revenue records “manipulated and fudged” to show losses.
For the past two months Resident Welfare Associations (RWAs) have been demanding auditing of the accounts of discoms by the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) to verify claim of losses.
But discoms contend that since they were private companies without any funding from the government, they could not be subjected to CAG auditing.
However, chief justice Dipak Misra and justice Sanjiv Khanna sought an explanation from all the discoms as to why their accounts cannot be audited by the CAG as “they were not wholly a private company with 49% stake still held by the Delhi government even after the pivatisation of power distribution”.
“Would not this character and composition make the private companies amenable to scrutiny by the CAG? Above it, the TRAI has inspected accounts of private telecom companies in the past. We want to know,” the bench said, seeking responses from BSES Rajdhani, BSES Yamuna and NDPL within six weeks.
Significantly, this was one of the main arguments of the RWAs who sought a CAG audit of the accounts of the discoms.
The court mainly relied on a July 2010 letter from DERC to Delhi government which said that 2007 to 2010 accounts of discoms should be audited by the CAG given the large number of “anomalies”, “manipulation of accounts” to the “disadvantage to the public”.
The court decided to intervene in the issue after it realised from the submissions of the lawyer for the Delhi Electricity Regulatory Commission (DERC) that DERC never probed the claims of the discoms and blindly went by their statement of losses.
“Stand of the DERC as a quasi-judicial body is irrelevant. This court will adjudicate the matter”, said the bench.
Discoms justified their claim for tariff hike citing cost of power purchase, which they claim has risen sharply in the last two years due to increase in fuel costs.