The Supreme Court on Friday bailed out Delhiites from power outages as it restrained National Thermal Power Corporation (NTPC) from cutting power supply to Reliance Group-owned power distribution companies.
“We have to look after the population of Delhi. Only the consumer suffers in this imbroglio. Don’t disconnect till we hear the matter on March 26,” a bench of Justice SS Nijjar and Justice AK Sikri told the NTPC counsel when the latter insisted the two BSES discoms — BYPL and BRPL — should pay Rs. 96 crore.
The bench, however, directed BSES to pay Rs. 50 crore. “Pay it within two weeks,” the court ordered. It told NTPC it won’t get any money by disconnecting electricity. The corporation was asked to file its response to the petitions, filed by BYPL and BRPL, challenging NTPC’s notice to snap power supply for not clearing outstanding dues of Rs. 300 crore.
With 70% of Delhi facing the threat of a blackout from February 10, BSES had rushed to SC on Thursday. It claimed the company had no money to clear the dues as the regulatory commission (DERC) and Delhi government owed it Rs. 15,000 crore. This figure has been challenged by the commission before the top court.
Read: HC to hear discoms' plea against CAG audit Feb 14
On this face-off between the government and Reliance-backed power discoms, chief minister Arvind Kejriwal said: “Tata has cleared all their dues but Anil Ambani’s company hasn’t made the payment to NTPC since December. They did not pay just to malign our government. If they don’t pay the dues, we’ll drive them out of Delhi and bring in other companies.”
Appearing for the discoms, senior advocate Mukul Rohatgi and counsel Sanjiv Sen, submitted the outstanding dues of Rs. 300 crore could be paid once the money was released to them.
At this the bench observed the amount of Rs. 300 crore was a small amount for Reliance. “You won’t go bust by Rs. 300 crore. We are sure that you will be able to pay the amount,” it said.
Read: Discoms on notice, govt looks at other options
The court also said: “You are a business house. If its (power distribution) not viable to you, look for alternative arrangement.”
The court assured the two sides it would adjudicate DERC’s appeal against the appellate tribunal’s order, asking it to pay Rs. 15,000 crore to BSES, quickly to resolve the dispute.