R-Infra moves court to quash stay on tariff hike | mumbai | Hindustan Times
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R-Infra moves court to quash stay on tariff hike

mumbai Updated: Oct 20, 2009 01:17 IST
Dharmendra Jore
Dharmendra Jore
Hindustan Times
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Suburban power supplier Reliance Infrastructure (R-Infra) has moved the Bombay High Court seeking to quash all the orders the state regulatory body issued against it three months ago.

The Maharashtra Electricity Regulatory Commission (MERC) orders include its stay on the suburban power bill hike, recovery of fuel adjustment charges and a third-party inquiry into R-Infra’s accounts.

R-Infra has made the state government and MERC as respondents.

Following public outcry and political protests in June, the state intervened to stall R-Infra’s 7 per cent hike for 26 lakh consumers. The new tariff, if implemented, would have increased monthly electricity bills — especially of domestic users — by 30-35 per cent.

The state used Section 108 of the Electricity Act, 2003 (EA-03) to instruct MERC to stay its July order. The same month, MERC not only stayed the new tariff but it also initiated a third-party probe into R-Infra’s metering and accounts.

The firm’s last six years accounts are being probed to find out how much it spent on its power distribution business.

The firm asked MERC for a tariff hike claiming it spent a significant amount on creating infrastructure in the suburbs.

“The order, dated July 15, was passed without notice and/or hearing the petitioners [R-Infra] and in violation of the principle of natural justice, though the second respondent [MERC] had no power… to pass the order under any provisions of EA-03,” says R-Infra’s petition, a copy of which is available with Hindustan Times.

The petition, filed on October 16, is expected to be heard after Diwali vacations.

While R-Infra lawyers, Mulla & Mulla & Craigie Blunt & Caroe were unreachable , representatives of the MERC and government did not comment.

R-Infra has also appealed to HC to allow it to recover fuel adjustment charges from its consumers whose tariffs have been stayed because “the MERC order [to this effect] is without any basis.”

City activists too are preparing to stall R-Infra’s move.

“R-Infra did not give any proof for violation of any fundamental right of any citizen yet the basic premise used is in violation of Article 14 (Equality before Law, of a citizen),” said activist Sandeep Ohri, who along with fellow experts N. Ponrathnam and Rakshpal Abrol will intervene in the matter.