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HC quashes tariff process

delhi Updated: May 23, 2011 23:04 IST
Harish V Nair
Harish V Nair
Hindustan Times
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It's back to square one. Sixteen months after the Delhi Electricity Regulatory Commission (DERC) began the exercise for fixing new tariffs for power consumers in the Capital, the Delhi high court on Monday ordered that the process be undertaken afresh.

The order comes as a setback for the consumers as the DERC had reportedly fixed a reduced power tariff, which was "scuttled" by the Delhi government.

The court slammed the DERC and the four discoms - for their "irresponsible behaviour and for creating chaos and confusion".

"We hope that the distribution companies shall behave with responsibility, maturity and intellectual honesty keeping in mind the interest of the citizens and not to be obsessed with their own interest in singularity ostracising statutory paradigms of law," a bench headed by chief justice Dipak Misra said.

The court said: "This time they (DERC) are to deal with the aspect of tariff determination with intellectual integrity, transparent functionalism and normative objectivity and not act in a manner by which its functioning invite doubt with regard to its credibility."

The order came on a PIL accusing the government of succumbing to pressure from discoms and "prohibiting release of new tariff approved on April 29, 2010 by DERC" which it claimed would have been lesser than the present rate.

The PIL said the then DERC chairman Berjinder Singh in an order, which was also signed by two members, told the government that the discoms were sitting on a combined cash profit of over R3,000 crore and it was time to reduce the power rates.

The court on February 18 quashed the letter through which the government stalled the release of reduced tariff terming it an "illegal and unwarranted interdiction".

But after Singh's retirement in September other two DERC members said chairman's proposal to lower the tariff was his "personal opinion".

The bench accused the DERC members of "behaving incoherently" and the state government of wrongly meddling in its affairs.

"(The) Functioning of the DERC is far from satisfactory. There is no application of mind or meeting of mind among its members. It has deviated from the set norms and left things to chaos and anarchy," it had said.