Smriti Kak Ramachandran

NEW DELHI: A last-minute intervention by the Delhi Government may have been successful in stalling the announcement of the new power tariff order for the Capital, but experts in the power sector say consumers can be assured that the Government cannot enforce a change in the order.

Quelling doubts about the role of the Delhi Electricity Regulatory Commission in tariff determination and the Government's alleged support to the power discoms, Power Department officials maintained that the DERC holds the right to determine tariff and cannot be issued directions on that

An official not wishing to be named said the Delhi Electricity Regulatory Commission would have the final say on what the tariff will be and that it is empowered by the law to do so. “There is the Supreme Court judgment in the case of Real Food Limited versus Andhra Pradesh Electricity Board (1995) that clearly says that the discretion of the Commission cannot be taken away by any direction of the State or the Central Government in tariff determination.”

In simpler terms it means that the tariff order prepared by the DERC cannot be altered unless the Commission decides to do so. “The tariff order has been based on audited accounts; the Commission has figures to prove why they sought a rollback in tariff, instead of announcing a quantum jump that the discoms have been hollering for. And based on these audited figures there is no way anyone can effect a change and insist on a hike, unless the records are fudged,” the official said.

Referring to the letter the Delhi Government has sent to the DERC, he said: “They have sought a statutory advice, which the DERC may or may not reply to. In this case the Commission seems willing to submit the reply to the Government. If the Government has a suggestion to make, it will be the prerogative of the DERC to accept to reject it.”

“The claims of the discoms notwithstanding, the audited accounts are in favour of a rollback. The numbers just don't support the claims of the discoms seeking a hike. There is also the Attorney-General's opinion that the discretion of the Commission cannot be taken away. And the Commission gets to decide what weight to give to policy decisions, such as the one issued by the Delhi Government on Tuesday evening,” the official said.

Serious concerns

Meanwhile, the Government insists that it is not “interfering” with the tariff determination.

“All we have said is that the discoms approached us with serious concerns. We in turn raised the issue with the Commission, and once we hear from them we will examine it. The Government has no role in tariff determination,” said Rajinder Kumar, Secretary Power, Delhi Government.