In what comes as a major relief to the power distribution companies (discoms) operating in the national capital, the Delhi High Court has quashed the plea of the ruling Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) for their CAG audit.
The three discoms operating in Delhi are privately owned and the court said CAG cannot audit private companies. The Delhi government owns 49 per cent stake in Reliance Power promoted — BSES Yamuna Power Limited (BYPL) and BSES Rajdhani Power Limited (BRPL) and Tata Power Delhi Distribution Limited (TPDDL).
The court in its order said such an audit did not constitute public interest under Section 20(1) of the CAG Act, since "determination of tariff is not expedient in public interest as the determination of tariff is in the sole domain of Delhi Electricity Regulatory Commission (DERC) which is well empowered to itself conduct the same or have the same conducted and the report of CAG of audit of DISCOMs has no place in the Regulatory Regime brought about by the Electricity Act and the Reforms Act".
The court also said "populist measures such as the terms of reference cannot be used to determine tariff. Thus, any reform that the government wants to introduce can only be brought about through the DERC".
CAG started an audit in 2014 after a request from the Delhi government, following which Reliance Infrastructure controlled BRPL and BYPL moved court questioning the legality of such an audit.
AAP in its poll promises has said that it will audit the power companies in Delhi as they are inflating their costs.The AAP after it came to power in Delhi last year asked CAG for audit of the three companies citing fudged accounts and orders.
The court also rapped the Delhi government saying "instead of strengthening the DERC, it had undertaken a misguided exercise by issuing a direction to the CAG to audit the accounts of the DISCOMs when the report of such audit "would not have any sanctity in law for achieving the desired result."
The draft audit report on the functioning of the three discoms capital city alleged inflation of dues and passing on "dead cost" of power on the consumers without supplying equivalent electricity.
In another petition filed by BRPL and BYPL, the discoms sought break-up of the loss calculated by CAG and the methodology of computation. The two discoms went to court after a draft report appeared in media.
The High Court then restricted the Delhi government to take any action on the report. It has now has also stated that the CAG report will have no bearing on the operations of the three discoms. "The directions for audit of DISCOMs by CAG, when the report of the CAG cannot impact the tariff, would not also serve any public interest," said the court order.
Kejriwal said the order was "a temporary setback" for the people. "The Delhi govt will soon file an appeal in the Supreme Court. I am committed to providing cheap electricity to people of Delhi. Our fight will continue."
Reacting to the order, TPDDL said it was a public service utility and works in absolute transparent and open manner. It is accountable to the Regulatory Commission, the Government and its Consumers. "It has all along acted in compliance with the law of the land. The power distribution in Delhi is a regulated business with robust built in check and balances, monitored and audited by the DERC on a regular basis," it said.
Source- Business standard