Ahead of an indefinite strike planned by an unrecognized workers' union next week, two Anil Ambani-owned electricity distribution companies moved the Delhi high court on 14-08-2016, seeking a direction to the Delhi government to declare their services essential.
The two firms–BSES Rajdhani Power Ltd and BSES Yamuna Power Ltd–sought the status of essential services under the Haryana Essential Services Maintenance Act 1974 (which is also applicable to Delhi) to ensure continued supply of electricity to the southern and western parts of the city.
The two discoms informed the court that they had approached the government by way of a representation dated 4 August, seeking a notification declaring electricity distribution as an essential service. This was done in order to cope with a possible indefinite strike announced by the Delhi Vidyut Board Union (DVBU), an unrecognized union, from 22 August, over certain industrial disputes.
The government hasn't replied to the discoms' plea, they informed the court.
Justice Sanjeev Sachdeva asked the Delhi government to consider the situation and take a decision. Sachdeva then asked the government to revert to the court by 19 August, when the case will be heard next.
The Delhi government said that it was still considering the plea from the two BSES firms. The representation was pending with the power secretary, the government said.
The court asked the government to take quick action. "The government has to be alive to the situation... The entire city will be held to ransom. What happens if there's no electricity at a hospital or the airport," Sachdeva asked.
Similar orders declaring electricity distribution as an essential service have been made on at least two occasions earlier–in 2004 and 2012.