UPERC chairman's fate hangs in the balance
The fate of Rajesh Awasthi, the Uttar Pradesh Electricity Regulatory Commission (UPERC) chairman, hangs in the balance as the Samajwadi Party (SP) government has withdrawn the previous regime's special leave petition (SLP) that had challenged an Allahabad high court order quashing his appointment.
On Tuesday, the apex court will examine the files pertaining to the appointment of Awasthi whose SLP in his personal capacity still remains to be disposed of.
On January 12 this year, the Supreme Court had stayed the high court's January 1 verdict that set aside the appointment of Awasthi as the UPERC chairman. It was then that the Mayawati government filed the SLP against the high court's order. Awasthi filed another SLP separately.
The Lucknow bench of the Allahabad high court had also ordered Awasthi's removal from the post immediately on a writ petition by Nand Lal Jaiswal, an ex-power employee.
The court had observed that Awasthi was not entitled to continue in the office. Jaiswal, in his petition, had argued that under statutory provisions, Awasthi was not eligible for selection and appointment to the post because of the state government's interest involved with the JP Power Venture of which he was the vice-president.
Taking a U-turn, the present government however chose to file an application in July seeking withdrawal of the SLP that had sought to challenge the HC order. On August 22, the SC allowed the application and dismissed the SLP as withdrawn.
"The counsel appearing for the petitioner (the state) submitted that they seek permission to withdraw this special leave petition," said the two-member SC bench comprising of justice KS Radhakrishnan and justice Dipak Mishra.
"The special leave petition is, accordingly, dismissed as withdrawn. Consequently, all the interim orders passed in this SLP would also stand vacated,” the court further ruled.
The court posted the matter for August 28, asking the state government's counsel to produce the entire selection file leading to the appointment of the petitioner (Awasthi) whose separate SLP in the same case is still pending before the SC.
A close relative of a top BSP leader, Awasthi had been appointed the UPERC chairman more than three years ago and he still has around a year and a half to go for his term to be over."The present SP dispensation decided not to defend him in court and withdrew the SLP filed by the BSP government in his defence for political reasons. This is because Awasthi's possible ouster will enable it to post someone of its choice," remarked a senior official.