As Cases At CERC Grind To A Halt After SC Order, Firms Hope For Quick Resolution

At the Central Electricity Regulatory Commission, all cases listed for hearing in September have been adjourned until further notice. The notice followed the Supreme Court order of August  29 that directed two members of the Central Electricity Regulatory Commission (CERC) to go on leave until a law member is appointed to the commission.

This was to ensure compliance with a rule framed by the SC itself in 2018, that required a law member to be appointed before any other member was. For good measure, the court added that “Any Member who has been appointed after our judgment, should not be permitted to function as that would be permitting functioning contrary to the judgment of this Court requiring a person from law to be appointed first.”

The order, passed by a bench comprising Justices S.K. Kaul, Ajay Rastogi and Aniruddha Bose came after a contempt petition filed by KK Agarwal, against non-appointment of a law member to the Commission.

This has meant that all work at the commission has effectively come to a halt, as the appointment of a member of law is awaited.

Solicitor General Tushar Mehta has informed the court that the procedure for appointing a person of law is expected to be concluded during the month of September 2020. The next hearing for the matter is on September 25, a time by which the many appellants will hope that the appointment is made, so that work can resume from October.

When we spoke to some of the firms that had cases listed in September, most expressed dissapointment with the turn of events. While that was expected, a second worry occupying many people involves is how the commission, always on a tight schedule at the best times, will ‘adjust’ the September adjournments in future months. Delays in getting final orders from regulators can easily be added to one of the many challenges players in the power sector face, and this turn of events simply serves to put the spotlight on the issue.

Of course, that this was possibly a wholly avoidable issue altogether, with a little more sensitivity and responsibility on the part of authorities, is another issue altogether.

Interestingly,in what might be a related development, even the website of the Appellate Tribunal for Electricity has not uploaded any fresh judgements, since the last one on September 1 was uploaded. Though hearings through video conferencing continue apparently.

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Prasanna Singh

Prasanna Singh

Prasanna has been a media professional for over 20 years. He is the Group Editor of Saur Energy International

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