The Delhi High Court on Friday threatened to quash the entire exercise regarding fixing power tariff for the Capital and slammed the way Delhi government and DERC were going about with process of fixing a new tariff.
Expressing anger at the conduct of the chairman and the members of the Delhi Electricity Regulatory Committee (DERC), the court said it favoured appointing a retired high court judge to carry out the entire process afresh within 30 days.
"On the next date of hearing we are going to constitute a special bench to hear the matter. We are going to order that the chairman be a retired HC judge and the commission has to take a fresh decision on tariff within 30 days," observed a bench of chief justice Dipak Misra and Justice Manmohan.
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," the court observed.
The court was hearing a PIL accusing the government of succumbing to pressure from power discoms and "prohibiting release of new tariff approved by DERC" on April 29, 2010. The PIL 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.
Government standing counsel Najmi Waziri denied the allegations saying no decision was taken so far due to serious differences between the chairman and members of the DERC.
Waziri said, "What has been recommended was just the opinion of the chairman without mandatory backing of the members." Apparently two members had changed their opinion regarding the suggestions later.
Questioning the process and criteria adopted while appointing members of DERC, the bench has ordered from the government all files pertaining to their appointment.
The court was of the view that they were not behaving like responsible persons performing quasi-judicial functions.
The judges were "perplexed" at what it saw in the minutes of the DERC meeting.
"One day one member says something then changes it and then again takes a U-turn. Then another member changes decision. Then one goes left, the other right. Isn't there something called a quasi-judicial discipline?" the court said.
Justice Misra asked the Delhi government how it could ask DERC not to issue the tariff order until it approves it and said, "prima facie the statute does not allow such an interdiction".