BHUBANESWAR:The Appellate Tribunal for Electricity (ATE) on Tuesday quashed the interim application of Reliance Infrastructure controlled distribution companies seeking stay on operation of the March 4 order of Odisha Electricity Regulatory Commission (OERC).
“It is not possible for us to grant any mandatory interim relief to the appellants and restore status-quo ante. The interim application is therefore dismissed,” said the order of the Appellate Tribunal.
A two-member bench of the Tribunal comprising Chairperson Justice Ranjana P Desai and Technical member Rakesh Nath said, “It is well settled that the court or the Tribunal should not grant an interim relief which would amount to final relief and make the pending suit infructuous. If we restore status quo ante, the appeal will become infructuous. We cannot do so,” they said.
Three distribution companies - Western Electricity Supply Company (WESCO), North-eastern Electricity Supply Company (NESCO) and Southern Electricity Supply Company (SOUTHCO) - challenged the March 4 order of OERC revoking their distribution licences.
Initiating suo motu action against the three discoms for violating terms and conditions of the distribution licence, OERC revoked their licence under Section 19 (revocation of licence based on public interest) of the Electricity Act, 2003.
The OERC order said the utilities have miserably failed in key areas such as energy audit, inability to control technical and commercial loss, poor billing efficiency, non-payment of arrears with regard to Bulk Supply Price (BSP) and servicing NTPC Bond.
The State regulator vests the management and control of its three distribution utilities with the Chairman and Managing Director of Gridco.
Reliance Infrastructure has 51 per cent stake in the three discoms while the State-owned Gridco is the minority shareholder with 49 per cent stake.
“However, we make it clear that we have not expressed any opinion on the merits of the case. Nothing said by us in this order should be treated as our expression of final opinion on the merits of either the appellants’ case or the respondents’ case,” the ATE order said.
Making a strong plea before the ATE not to grant any interim relief, State Government counsel Dushyant Dave said public interest demands that the petitioners should not be protected.
The majority shareholders of the appellants (nominees of BSES/RIL) have no stake whatsoever in the discoms for having not invested any money since 1999. On the contrary, in the garb of controlling shareholding, they have abused public funds beyond redemption and imagination, Dave submitted.