It said: "The Ombudsman is a separate body. He has to decide the issues independently and he should act independent of the State Commission. Ombudsman plays an independent role of a judge to decide the issues of the consumers and others and so he should not hold any other position in the Commission."
The tribunal noted that in response to its earlier directions, "Ombudsmen are functioning in almost all States. We have received the respective reports from all the State/Joint Commissions which have shown that they have acted in compliance with our directions by putting in place the institutional mechanism by filling in any void and as also by submitting periodical status reports."
Further, it said: "State Electricity Regulatory Commissions are established in all States. Supply codes and standards of performance of licensees are in place and easily available in the public domain. Needless to say, this is a necessary step in the consumers knowing their rights and remedies for their grievances. "
However, it said since there were a number of posts lying vacant "we feel that there is an urgency to give suitable directions even during the pendency of this review petition in order to ensure that the State/Joint Commissions are not allowed to be inundated with deluge of consumer grievances which will hamper their vital regulatory and specialised role as a Regulator to the power sector in each State."
Apart from the appointment of an Ombudsman, the Secretary of Forum of Regulators should continue with the dissemination of best practices in consumer interest through annual conferences, the tribunal said.