Former Union minister and senior advocate Kapil Sibal on Wednesday took a dig at the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) government’s promise to provide cheap power to Delhiites. Appearing for Reliance-owned BSES Rajdhani Power Limited (BRPL) - one of the three discoms supplying power to Delhi - in the Supreme Court, Sibal said it was impossible for his client to do so.
“It’s a sad story of how our polity is functioning. They (AAP) will also lose elections after five years. The result of such false promise is that courts are burdened with litigations,” Sibal told a bench headed by Justice J Chelameswar, which is hearing BRPL and BSES Yamuna Power Limited’s (BYPL) plea for the correction of power tariff.
The utilities are seeking a refund of regulatory assets worth `10,000 crore from Delhi Electricity Regulatory Commission (DERC) that decides the tariff.
Sibal’s comments came after Justice Chelameswar asked him in a lighter vein as to what would happen to elections if power companies’ request to increase the tariff is accepted. The senior counsel said: “That is why we (Congress) lost. Yes, we will lose.” He added if the state wanted to subsidise power for consumers, it cannot penalise the companies. Another former Union minister and senior advocate P Chidambaram appeared for BYPL.
Leading the argument, Sibal complained against the regulator for not functioning independently. “The regulator is due to recover my loss through tariff. If he doesn’t he is penalizing me. Cost of coal and gas have gone up. But there is no proportionate increase in tariff. However, power generating companies such as NTPC will recover their dues from me at the market rate,” he told the bench.
DERC defended its tariff structure saying under the same regulator three private discoms — two belonging to Reliance and one of Tata Group — were supplying power. Senior advocate Meet Malhotra argued Tata discom had paid everybody but only the BRPL and BYPL hadn’t.