CERC Finally Restarts, Will APTEL Pick Pace Now?

CERC Finally Restarts, Will APTEL Pick Pace Now?

With the Supreme Court yesterday  allowing the Central Electricity Regulatory Commission (CERC) to resume administrative operations, the stage is finally set for a semblance of normality to return to some of the highest dispute resolution bodies in the Indian power sector. While the CERC was effectively shut down by the SC since August last year, the top tribunal, APTEL, is still in a funk, with the Corona pandemic being repeatedly cited to push all but the most important case hearings ahead. Barely any significant judgements have been passed there since November. With the blame being placed squarely on the video led proceedings, the challenge for CERC to catch up is even higher till normalcy returns.

The CERC resolution follows the appointment of a legal member by the government. This also means that the fate of the 174 reserved judgements that was hanging in limbo, has been  cleared, with the court not inclined to  relook those, despite the judgements being written when the legal member was not a part of the CERC.

The court has laid down that any fresh adjudicatory work by the two existing members- I S Jha, former Power Grid Corp chairman, and Arun Goyal, IAS– can begin only when the member (law) takes charge.

Ravi Sharma, the advocate-on-record  who had filed the case against the government at the SC, says that “Hon’ble SC has accepted my suggestions to let both the members resume their and perform administrative functions but adjudicatory functions will commence once member (law) joins the office,” .

With a massive backlog stretching over almost 5 months now, the new members will find their work cut out, and it remains to be seen if the commission looks at ways to clear the same at a faster rate than usual.

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Prasanna Singh

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