HYDERABAD: Allowing the writ appeals filed by the high-tension electricity consumers, a division bench of the High Court has held that the AP Electricity Regulatory Commission has no power to enlarge the time stipulated for entertaining applications from distribution companies (Discoms) for determination of fuel surcharge adjustment (FSA). In its order on Friday, the bench comprising chief justice Madan B. Lokur and justice PV Sanjay Kumar said Discoms’ FSA claims for 2008-09 were hopelessly time-barred.
Discoms have to submit their proposals on FSA within 30 days after completion of every quarter. If submitted after the prescribed time limit, the APERC should not entertain such proposals.
The division bench did not agree with the earlier judge’s comment that the commission had the power to condone the delay in filing applications by the licensees (Discoms) claiming FSA beyond the time prescribed. “We are of the opinion that in a situation covered by Regulation 45-B(4), it is not open to the commission to step in and undo the irreversible consequence of the failure to abide by the time stipulation therein i.e. forfeiture of future FSA claims by the Discoms for such period by taking recourse to Regulation 59 of the Business Regulations.
The commission has no such power and must necessarily give effect to the forfeiture clause stipulated in the regulation. Being an independent and autonomous body mantled with balancing of consumers’ interests with that of the Discoms in recovering the cost of electricity in a reasonable manner, the commission cannot seek to favour one side as it has chosen to do in the present case. We are fortified in our view by the unequivocal observations made by the Supreme Court in the Maya Mathew case that the special rule framed subsequent to the general rule would undoubtedly prevail,” the bench said