CERC to Remain Non-functional for 4 More Weeks

The Central Government has failed to complete the appointment of a member of law to the CERC, which is now expected to remain closed for 4 more weeks.

The Central Government has failed in its attempt to complete the appointment of a member of law to the Central Electricity Regulatory Commission (CERC), as per the Supreme Court order which has seen the premier regulatory commission in the county remain non-operational for nearly two months. 4 weeks

“The Central government has deposed that IB report has come but the final selection of member will take place after Cabinet Committee Meeting and Selection Committee meeting. However, they were not sure, how much time will further take to appoint member law. Additional solicitor general Madhvi Divan, arguing on behalf of the Centre, has asked tentatively for four more weeks’ time. So, CERC will remain non-functional for 4 more weeks,” advocate-on-record Ravi Sharma said.

Thus, CERC will now remain non-functional for a further 4 more weeks, taking the total of 3 months.

The intervenor application which was filed by ACME Solar to partial modifications to the extend of order reserved by CERC to before order dated 28.8.2020 to be passed, was also not accepted by the premier court.

A notice was issued on intervention application and a period of 5 weeks time was granted after issuing notice to hear on Intervention application.

In the first week of September, all the cases at CERC been adjourned until further notice after the SC order on August 28, 2020, directed two members of the central commission 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.

At the time September 26, 2020, was expected to be the tentative date for appointment of the new member of law and for work to resume at CERC. However, by that time, there had been no resolution on the issue. At the hearing on September 26, where Additional Solicitor General Madhvi Divan represented the government, the court declined to consider the plea to allow the functioning of the tribunal with the existing members, as they had ‘specific roles’, according to the government view.

To quote from the learned court, “We are, however, now persuaded. In view of the submission that is emphasised, there are many tribunals that are non-functional or hardly functional because vacancies have been left un-filled. This is the larger issue which the Government must examine as when it creates Tribunals, vacancies must be filled in time anticipating even the future vacancies. This has not happened. There are Tribunals even more important than the Tribunal in question in terms of their remits, where such a situation prevails. We thus see no reason why a different scenario has to prevail for the Tribunal in question, especially because the process as envisaged under our judgment has not been followed.

We are thus not inclined to vary the arrangement made vide order dated 28th August 2020 which shall continue till such time as the person of Law is so appointed.”

At the time, it is understood that the court was possibly unhappy about the struggle to give a specific date by which the position for a member of law would be filled, despite the selection allegedly having been finalised and the file sent to the Intelligence Bureau for approval.

By refusing to relent, even as it gave a hearing date for October 26, the understanding at that stage was that the court expects the vacancy to be filled up by then. However, the same story has repeated itself for the second successive month/ hearing. And now, the commission will remain inactive for a further four months.

[Updated October 27, 2020]

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Ayush Verma

Ayush is a staff writer at saurenergy.com and writes on renewable energy with a special focus on solar and wind. Prior to this, as an engineering graduate trying to find his niche in the energy journalism segment, he worked as a correspondent for iamrenew.com.