Power ministry seeks enquiry on DERC for not following statutory orders

Ministry of Power has asked an appellate tribunal to conduct an enquiry on grounds that provisions of the Electricity Act, and orders of statutory bodies and courts were not being followed by DERC

Press Trust of India New Delhi
Power, electricity

The Ministry of Power has asked an appellate tribunal to conduct an enquiry on the grounds that provisions of the Electricity Act, and orders of statutory bodies and courts were allegedly not being followed by the DERC, sources said on Thursday.

The ministry in a reference to the chairperson of the Appellate Tribunal for Electricity (APTEL) on February 20 has also sought to build a case for the removal of a member of the Delhi Electricity Regulatory Commission (DERC) on the ground of "proved misbehaviour" under Section 90 (2)(f) of the Act, they said.

The DERC is a three-member body. Since the retirement of DERC chairperson Justice (retd) Shabihul Hasnain on January 9 and a member before him, the commission currently has only one member A K Ambasht.

No reaction was immediately available from Ambasht, member (technical), on the development.

However, a DERC source claimed that the move by the ministry was "irrelevant" as only the Delhi government can invoke Section 90 provisions against a member of the commission and not the Centre.

"Also, under Section 90 of the Electricity Act, removal of a member of the state electricity regulatory commission can be sought on five specific grounds, including he or she being mentally unstable, financially broke and such others," said the DERC source.

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The ministry listed various alleged "instances of transgressions" on part of the DERC in its letter to the APTEL chairperson.

The Electricity Act, 2003, provides that the power tariff should be cost reflective and it mandates that the appropriate commission while determining the tariff will be guided by the objective that the tariff progressively reflects the cost of supply of electricity and also reduces cross subsidies within a specified period, it said.

"Contrary to the above statutory provisions, the DERC has allowed the regulatory assets to increase to Rs 8,955 crore according to the tariff order issued for FY 2021-22 instead of liquidating the same. Till date, the commission has not come up with a trajectory to liquidate these regulatory assets," said the ministry letter to the appellate tribunal chairperson.

The DERC source claimed that the regulatory assets of power discoms in Delhi have climbed down from around Rs 15,000 crore to around Rs 9,000 crore in recent years. This showed that the charge against the commission was "unreasonable", the source said.

The ministry said that "the appellate tribunal for electricity in a series of orders has given its findings that the DERC is not performing its duties in accordance with the Electricity Act, 2003".

It claimed that while most of the other state regulatory commissions have started passing timely orders and have come up with plans to reduce the regulatory assets, the DERC has not been acting according to the provisions of the Act.

"This shows that the DERC has acted contrary to the principles of judicial and hierarchical discipline. The strictures demonstrate that the DERC has not been acting as per the provisions of the Electricity Act and has also not followed the process of law and it is liable to action under the provisions of the Act," the letter read.

Building the case for the removal of the DERC member, the letter cites Section 90 of the Electricity Act that deals with removal of regulatory commission member.

The letter said, "...Hence, the acts and omissions of the DERC (any reference to Member under Electricity Act, 2003 includes Chairperson)...qualifies for action under Section 90 (2) (f) of the Electricity Act...Therefore, a reference is being hereby made to the Chairperson, Appellate Tribunal of Electricity, to conduct an enquiry against Member DERC, for his removal...".

The DERC fixes power tariff in the national capital every year issuing requisite tariff orders.

The AAP government in Delhi provides 100 per cent and 50 per cent subsidy to domestic consumers using monthly up to 200 and between 201 to 400 units of electricity.

The AAP claims credit for not allowing electricity rates to increase under its government since 2015.

(Only the headline and picture of this report may have been reworked by the Business Standard staff; the rest of the content is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Feb 23 2023 | 11:41 PM IST

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