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Home News Power Sector News Orissa - Reliance owned Discoms come under RTI scanner

Orissa - Reliance owned Discoms come under RTI scanner

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OrissaIn the midst of a raging debate as to whether there should be boundary limiting the Right to Information Act, the Orissa Information Commission  passed an order bringing Reliance Power-owned power distribution companies - Southern Electricity Supply Company of Orissa Ltd (SOUTHCO), WESCO and NESCO - under the purview of the RTI Act, 2005. The order is significant as it comes in the wake of Supreme Court verdict rejecting a special leave petition of three Discoms challenging an order of Orissa High Court that they come under purview of RTI Act.

Disposing off second appeal before the state information commission, Information Commissioner, Jagadananda has directed the chief executives of three Discoms to furnish permissible information within 10 days of receipt of the order to the RTI applicants, appoint Public Information Officer [PIO], Additional PIO and the First Appellate Authority in the organization as per the provisions of the Act.

Mr Jagadananda also has asked the Discoms to publish all relevant fats about such policies and decisions for the information of public under the Act while formulating important policies or decisions affecting the public. The Information Commissioner also has asked the Discoms to comply the order within a month of the order.

In 2005, the Naveen Patnaik government had passed an order bringing Reliance Power-owned power distribution companies - Southern Electricity Supply Company of Orissa Ltd (SOUTHCO), WESCO and NESCO - under the purview of the RTI Act.

The three Discoms challenged the state government order in the Orissa High Court, which however upheld the state government decision. "The four Discoms including the petitioner company [Reliance Power owned Discoms] are discharging governmental functions of distribution and supply of electricity to the people of the state, which is an essential public duty. All these go to show that the state government has a deep and pervasive control over all the 4 Discoms including the petitioner and such control is not mere regulatory", the High Court bench had observed saying that the Discoms are public authority and come under the purview of RTI Act.

The three Discoms had challenged the order at the Supreme Court, which early this year had stayed the High Court order. The Discoms had contended that the High Court dismissed the petitions without appreciating the fact that the private companies could not have been put on the same plank as a "public authority". SOUTHCO in its petition stated that the HC failed to appreciate the fact that the power distribution companies do not receive any funds from the government nor were they under state control.

Later, however, the Discoms had withdrawn the case and moved to State Information Commission, which went along with the High Court order bringing three Discoms under the purview of the RTI Act.

Source- economic Times

 

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