With Member Law Finally In, CERC Looks To Restart Soon

With the appointments committee of the cabinet finally approving the selection of Pravas Kumar Singh as Member (law) for the Central Electricity Regulatory Commission (CERC), the stage is finally set for restart of operations at the critical regulator, in hibernation since August 28.

As we have reported regularly with updates, the body was effectively shut down by the Supreme Court for not following its order of April2018, which mandated a member of law in every central tribunal, regulatory agency and other quasi judicial bodies.

In fact, the honourable court had even prevented the released of reserved judgements lying at the CERC, due to what it saw as the poor intent of the government to follow though on its orders.

Mr Singh was earlier a member of the Jharkhand SERC, and comes with a tenure of 5 years. He will join two other CERC members I S Jha, former Power Grid Corp chairman, and Arun Goyal, ex-bureaucrat, besides Chairperson P.K Pujari at the commission.

The government will now need to file an interlocutory application (IA) at the SC for an early hearing to resume operations at the regulator. At the moment, an early January start looks to be the mot likely outcome.

We believe doubts that have been raised on the validity of the reserved judgements, besides the many cases disposed off during the period from April 2018 to August 2020, were sought to be put to rest by the court when it expressly stated that it has tried to protect those by  making its judgement apply prospectively. Along with the condition that any opening in other SERC’s will first fill in the position for member of law.

A total of 177 reserved judgements await the expanded team for release soon, besides the massive backlog of cases for hearing from September onwards. For many petitioners, the wait has been a testing time, as their issues, hanging on matters like delays of a few months  hang fire. Force Majeure, the most cited word this year  to explain away delays in regulatory courts this year, has unfortunately made a case for applying to the regulator itself. It remains to be seen how the CERC clears up its heavy workload.

 

 

 

 

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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

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