To ask for cheap power purchased through competitive bidding is a right of every consumer – written in black and white in the sanctimonious Electricity Act. But what happens when you ask for this right in a court of law? You are slapped with a fine as you "unnecessarily consumed the Court's time"
This is exactly what happened to Amarsinh Chavda, a Bhadaj-based consumer rights activist, who filed a petition against Ahmedabad-based Torrent Power for buying power through short term purchases leading to higher prices.
The public interest litigation (PIL) filed by Chavda alleged that Torrent Power due to shortage of power at its own plants entered into short term purchase agreement with Gujarat Urja Vikas Nigam Limited (GUVNL) and purchased 'costly power'.
The petitioner referred the practise to be illegal.
"It was submitted by the petitioner (Chavda) that since the electricity is purchased by respondent No 1 (Torrent Power) from respondent No 3 (GUVNL) at the higher price, consequentially the question of increase of tariff may arise for respondent No 1 and that is why it can be said that consumers would be adversely affected on account of such a modus undertaken by respondent No 1," said the submission made by Chavda in the Gujarat High Court.
Section 61 & 62 of the Electricity Act, 2003 provide for "tariff regulation and determination of tariff of generation, transmission, wheeling and retail sale of electricity by the Appropriate Commission determined through transparent process of bidding in accordance with the guidelines issued by the Central Government."
The petition by Chavda said, "The short-term power purchase was for 2013-14 only. However, it was later approved for 2014-15 also. Therefore, consumers have to pay more for electricity. As per the law, if power was purchased following a competitive bidding process, consumers would have got power at a cheaper rate."
But, the High Court dismissed the appeal saying that the matter is purely on the aspect of procurement of raw-material of electricity for enabling the licencee electricity company to supply electricity to the consumers.
The ruling dated August 27 said, "We found it not to consider the said aspect since no element of public interest is involved in the present petition in a PIL jurisdiction. In view of above, we dismissed the petition with cost of Rs 25,000 which shall be deposited by the petitioner with this Court within one month from today."
Interestingly, Chavda is also a petitioner in the much hyped case of alleged allotment of land to more than two dozen judges of the Gujarat High Court at concessional rates. The matter was referred to larger bench last month. A similar case filed as PIL by Prashant Bhushan was postponed by the Supreme Court in June this year.
Source- Business standard