NEW DELHI: Lieutenant Governor Najeeb Jung on Wednesday set aside the appointment of Krishna Saini as chairperson of Delhi Electricity Regulatory Commission (DERC) which decides power tariff in the national capital, on grounds of legal infirmities. Saini was appointed by the Arvind Kejriwal government in March this year which would lead to further escalate intense confrontation between the two sides.
The Lieutenant Governor's office said Saini was appointed to the top post of Delhi Electricity Regulatory Commission (DERC) in March without approval of Jung as mandated under rules and procedures.
This is the first major decision taken by the Jung following the judgement of Delhi High Court pertaining to supremacy of powers of Lieutenant Governor in Delhi on August 4.
“In the given circumstances, the appointment of Chairperson, DERC has been declared as void, ab initio," the LG's office said in a statement. Jung has also directed the government to initiate the process for selection of the chairperson of the DERC immediately, in accordance with law. Saini, a former Chief Income Tax Commissioner, was appointed to head the regulator, which takes crucial decisions relating to power sector including tariff, in March without Jung's approval.
“As per Section 85, Electricity Act, 2003, the Selection Committee is to be constituted by the State Government. The power and functions of the State Government have been delegated to the Lieutenant Governor vide government of India notification dated February 20, 2004. Further, the Council of Ministers appointed Sh. Krishna Saini as Chairperson, Delhi Electricity Regulatory Commission (DERC) without the approval of the Lt Governor,” Jung's office said in a statement.
It said as the constitution of the selection committee as well as the appointment of DERC chairperson was done without putting up the matter to Jung for his concurrence, the entire process has been vitiated right from the beginning and "suffers from serious legal infirmities".
After Delhi High Court judgement, Raj Niwas has directed DERC to not issue any directions or orders till further orders by Lieutenant Governor’s office. After that, Saini has not issued any orders.
While appointing Saini, the AAP government had cited a Delhi High Court order of February 24 saying it was allowed permission to go ahead with his appointment. Saini had retired as Chief Commissioner of Income Tax in January.
DERC consists of a chairman and two members. A three-member selection committee comprising a retired HC judge, the chief secretary of Delhi and the chairman of Central Electricity Regulatory Commission screens candidates and forward the short-listed names to the government.
There is a general impression that discoms - BSES Rajdhani and BSES Yamuna (51 per cent stakes in both companies are owned by the Anil Dhirubhai Ambani group) and Tata Power Delhi Distribution (in which Tata Power holds a 51-per cent stake) -- want their own person as DERC chairman so that they can easily increase the power tariffs.