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Home News Power Sector News Govt. not pro-active, DERC not transparent - Delhi HC

Govt. not pro-active, DERC not transparent - Delhi HC

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Delhi HCThe Delhi high court on 25-01-2011 made it clear that the chairman of Delhi Electricity Regulatory Commission must be someone who is "above pulls and pressure" and asked the Delhi government to ensure the appointment is transparent. A division bench comprising Chief Justice Dipak Misra and Justice Manmohan expressed their unhappiness with the working of DERC and blamed the state government for not being proactive in appointing a chairman who is acceptable to all stakeholders.

"It's an extremely sad situation; the state government should have been much more proactive. Why don't you appoint an economist? Look at what has happened, the whole year has become zero year because of the three members," the bench remarked while hearing a PIL on power tariff in the capital. In response, the government claimed there were no takers for the top job from the private sector even as it was waiting for applications from contenders. It is the most sorry state and the Delhi government has to play a 'pro-active role but the state is lost despite the fact that it has immense powers', the bench observed.

The court was unhappy over the entire exercise relating to fixing power tariff for the capital and rapped the city government and the DERC for it.

The functioning of the DERC, which is a quasi-judicial body, was not satisfactory, the bench said, adding that the city government should not have interfered with the former's decision on fixing a new tariff.

The government claimed the selection of DERC members was a complex issue and said: 'There could be some problems. However, its functioning is satisfactory.'

In response to the bench's earlier remark that it would order appointment of a retired judge of the court as DERC chairman, the government said the Supreme Court, in one of its judgments, had ruled out that possibility.

Highlighting the lapses, advocate Prashant Bhusan said: 'A large number of file notings have been tampered with and it is a serious issue.'

Senior advocate Mukul Rohatgi, appearing for one of the discoms, submitted that the issue of power tariff could be decided at a later stage but the issue of fuel surcharge be decided as it was hurting the power companies.

The court then deferred the matter for further hearing Feb 11.

Earlier, the court had said: 'One day one member (of DERC) says something, then changes it and then again takes a U-turn. Then another member changes decision. Then one goes left, the other right. Isn't there something called a quasi-judicial discipline?.'

The bench had also questioned how the Delhi government asked the DERC not to issue the tariff order until it approved it.

Attorney General G.E. Vahanvati, who has been helping the court in the matter, had earlier said that the state government was not empowered to interfere with a DERC's decision and could only issue guidelines to it for its consideration.

It was hearing a PIL by Nand Kishor Garg where he sought directions to the government against interfering with the commission's tariff fixation process. The PIL has alleged that the state government has failed to follow the Delhi Electricity Act provisions under which a sitting or retired high court judge is entitled to be appointed as DERC chairman, and has been sitting over the matter since last September.

Source- Times of India


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