The discoms' case was not helped by a power cut plunging the court into partial darkness and even though their counsel quickly pointed out that the firms did not supply power in the New Delhi area, it was a telling moment.
BSES Rajdhani Power Ltd and BSES Yamuna Power Ltd owe Damodar Valley Corporation Rs 140 crore and the SC asked them to deposit Rs 45 crore by November 30. For the second successive day, the court was unimpressed by the argument that a high dose of socio-economic sops made power distribution financially untenable.
The two discoms, which are a joint venture of Reliance ADAG and Delhi government, have not paid dues to DVC forcing the corporation to seek permission from SC to take action, including stoppage of power supply to Delhi.
A bench of Justices D K Jain, A R Dave and S J Mukhopadhaya talked tough when senior advocates Mukul Rohatgi and Shyam Divan persisted to harp on the allegedly dire finances of the two companies in an attempt to persuade the court to defer an order on immediate payment to DVC. "Financially, we are almost sunk," Rohatgi said as a last resort.
The bench would have none of it and said: "Do you think you are doing charity. Please do not do so. If you go there will be another to take up the business. Do not be under the impression that you are indispensable."
Amicus curiae and senior advocate Ranjit Kumar said another private distributor -- the Tata group run New Delhi Power Ltd -- had no problem with distribution and is also regular in paying up DVC for the purchase of power.
When the bench asked Rohatgi on interim payments to DVC, the counsel said BSES Rajdhani, which owes Rs 82 crore, could only pay 10%. At that very moment, the lights went off plunging the court into semi-darkness.
As the judges broke into knowing smiles, Rohatgi said: "We did not do it. The Supreme Court comes in the New Delhi area and power is supplied by another discom." To save him the blushes, the back-up power lit up the court room.
Appearing for DVC, additional solicitor general Harin Raval made a strong pitch for immediate payment of arrears. "DVC pays coal suppliers 60% of its revenue. We have been supplying power to discoms on the solemn undertaking before the court and cannot discontinue it. But, the coal suppliers are not bound by this undertaking and if DVC does not pay, they would be under no obligation to continue the fuel supply."
The Bench said several factors needed to be considered and allowed the discoms to renegotiate their contract with DVC but with a direction that current charges for power drawl would have to be paid by the two BSES companies on or before the due date.
Source- Times of India