The Delhi High Court on Wednesday rapped the Delhi government and Delhi Electricity Regulatory Commission (DERC) for their ongoing tussle over fixing of new power tariff for the Capital.
The court also warned against further delay in its release. “The public interest is suffering. There cannot be an endless wait,” a bench of chief justice Dipak Misra and justice Manmohan said while hearing a PIL on the issue.
“How can there be a regulator who does not perform its job and why is no action being taken,” the bench asked attorney general GE Vahanavati, who was assisting on the issue.
The PIL accused the 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 that the discoms were sitting on a combined profit of over Rs 300 crore per month and it was time to reduce the power rates.
Vahanavati said the state government had no power to interfere with a decision taken by the DERC and could only issue guidelines which the commission could consider.
However, the government contended that the state government had the jurisdiction to interfere with a decision taken by the DERC.
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.
Petitioners argued that since two of the three members decided on the tariff, it had to be taken as a majority view.
A government letter to DERC in July stated, “It is clear that matter of statutory advice (if discoms are in financial loss) was not taken up in the commission meeting and two other members have not endorsed chairman’s advise. So the chairman’s advise may be treated as personal advice.” The government accused DERC of not adhering to national tariff policy as per which “uncontrollable costs” like price of power bought from other states at peak season were required to be considered.