In a terse reply sent to the corporation, the commission said section 108 of the act only related to the matters of policy and was not related to determination of the tariff. The commission said that as a quasi judicial body it was in the process of scrutinising the annual revenue receipts (ARR)/tariff petitions in all distribution and transmission licencees in the state.
When contacted, UPERC chairman Rajesh Awasthi said the commission was already in the final stages of determining the tariff. Though he did not gave a fixed date he said the notification would be issued soon. UPERC sources said the new tariff structure, essentially raising the energy charges for industrial houses by around 30 to 40 per cent, was likely to come into force within a week or so.
Member of the state advisory committee of UPERC, AK Verma, while calling it an attempt to dent the image of the commission, demanded action against Gupta. In a petition filed before the commission, Verma cited former solicitor general of India Gopal Subramanium's observation that an electricity regulatory commission cannot be 'directed' by any agency on the issue of tariff.
UPERC sources said it was the first time a government agency had exercised powers it was not vested with. "It is surprising senior officials in the UPPCL are not aware of the provisions of the act,'' said a UPERC official.
On Wednesday, Gupta, in a stunning letter dashed to UPERC had said that tariff petition for financial year 2012-13 was filed long back and all formalities, including public hearing, are already complete. "The tariff, however, is yet to be issued, giving rise to gigantic financial problems,'' the principal secretary wrote.
Gupta added that the financial condition of the department had been precarious, hence, it was prudent to improve it. "Efforts have been made to get loan sanctioned from different financial institutions like power finance corporation and different banks, who have linked the release of loans with the issue of tariff order,'' the letter said.
Sources, meanwhile, said some officials in the UPPCL were already dubbing the commission office a bunch of officials with political connections in the former BSP government. UPERC chairman Awasthi was especially on the radar of the SP government for links with a senior Brahmin BSP leader, who was supposedly closed to Mayawati.
The SP government has taken back its special leave petition (SLP) in Supreme Court seeking review of a high court order that quashed the appointment of Awasthi earlier this year. In January 1, the Lucknow bench of Allahabad High Court had ordered removal of Awasthi as UPERC chairman on a writ petition by a former energy department employee Nand Lal Jaiswal.
Jaiswal had argued in his petition that under statutory provisions, Awasthi was not eligible for the post because of the state government's interest involved with the JP Power Venture of which he has been a vice-president. On January 12, the Supreme Court stayed the high court's January 1 order after Mayawati government filed the SLP against it. At the same time, Awasthi filed another SLP separately. Taking a U-turn, the present government, however, chose to file an application in July seeking withdrawal of the SLP that had sought to challenge the HC order.