A division bench comprising Chief Justice Dipak Misra and Justice Sanjiv Khanna slammed the stakeholders — the DERC, Delhi government and private discoms — for their functioning.
The commission had earlier approved the tariff but before it could announce the new rates, the Delhi government prevented them from releasing the final order.
“The state government totally misdirected itself at the instance of the distribution companies,” the bench said, while hearing a PIL filed by one Nand Kishore Garg.
In its 68-page order, HC pulled up the commission and said, “The commission under the 2003 (Electricity) Act is required to deal with the aspect of tariff determination with intellectual integrity, transparent functionalism and objectivity and not act in a manner by which its functioning invites doubt with regard to its credibility.” The court further said if chaos and anarchy had set into the commission, the government was also responsible for it by “unjustifiably intruding and encroaching on its functions.”
The petitioner had alleged the traffi order prepared by DERC was stalled after the government, going beyond its statutory powers, wrote to DERC in May 2010 asking it not to issue a tariff order.
Former DERC chairman Berjinder Singh approved the tariff for 2010-11 before he retired in September 2010. After Singh’s retirement, the other two members of DERC wrote to the government that the former chairman’s proposal to lower the tariff was his “personal opinion”.
HC said a regulatory body was not expected to create confusion. “In this scenario, one thing is singularly clear that there is enormous chaos and confusion,” the court added. The petitioner challenged the government’s interference with the functioning of the power regulator, calling it illegal.
HC also upbraided the discoms saying, “A distribution company is not an illiterate litigant who seeks redressal of his grievances at any stage and before whichever forum. They are guided by their law officers and are expected to know how to conduct themselves. The manner in which they submitted the representation to the state government, requiring its interference at a stage when the regulatory body was proceeding with determination, was totally unwarranted. It is nothing but subterfuge.”
In February, the court told DERC not to pass a fresh tariff order without its permission. It had held the government’s interdiction illegal and said it had no business to interfere with the functioning of the power regulator and that it could not issue any “directive” to the commission.