A bench comprising Justices Harjeet Singh Bedi and K S Radhakrisnan, while dropping the contempt of court proceedings against senior officials of the Madhya Pradesh State Electricity Board noted, ‘We are of the opinion that the directions made by the High Court in the impugned judgement are clearly beyond the court jurisdiction in a Public Interest Litigation(PIL) as it interferes with the functioning of independent state agencies in matters which are beyond their control insofar as uninterrupted supply of electricity is concerned.
‘We cannot ignore that shortage of power is a phenomenon common to the entire country and to single out members of the board or the regulatory commission for failure to comply with the directions of the court, which are incapable of complying is not called for.' The apex court, while setting aside the order of High Court, also set aside the directions of the CBI investigation against the board officials and noted, ‘the directions that the matter should be referred to CBI for inquiry, is to our mind, completely misplaced.
‘There is no finding of the court or even a suggestion of any misconduct or any attempt to forestall the uninterrupted supply of electricity to the state or government hospitals.
‘We, thus do not find any justification in the direction that the CBI investigate matters which are purely technical and administrative in nature.
‘We must emphasise once again that a PIL is to be invoked sparingly and with rectitude and any order made in this situation must be reasonable and must not reflect the pique of the court more particularly as it is the court's business to attempt to run the government in a manner which the court thinks is the proper way,' the judgement held.
‘The officers of the board have repeatedly come to court to explain that the situation was beyond their control and that the shortfall in the supply of electric power was not of their making or in their control.
‘The High court ignored this basic fact and passed an order which was incapable of compliance.
‘We therefore allow these appeals and set aside the order dated April one, 2003 and discharge the contempt proceedings.' The High Court had initiated the contempt of court proceedings against the board officials and had also directed CBI investigation into the functioning of the board holding that court cannot remain a mere spectator to the miseries of the people in a democratic country.
Board officials, including S K Dasgupta and others, challenged the High Court order before the Supreme Court.