The Supreme Court on Friday suspended the Central Electricity Regulatory Commission (CERC) for at least a month as it failed to appoint a member (law).
The apex court said the earlier judgment of August 28, 2020, would continue to remain in force till October 26 or till the time a member (law) is appointed. Case hearing at CERC had already halted since August 28. The matter pertains to a Supreme Court order in April 2018 when it directed all state electricity commissions to appoint a member from the field of law with qualifications of a high court or district judge.
However, the ministry of power, which appoints members in the CERC, failed to do so. The ministry advertised for vacancy of member (law) for CERC in April 2019 and October 2019. But the selection committee did not finalise any candidate and cancelled the process. Meanwhile, two other non-law members – I S Jha, former chairman and managing director, Power Grid Corporation, and Arun Goyal, retired secretary, Government of India, were appointed.
A contempt petition was filed by K K Agarwal and argued by advocate Ravi Sharma in August against the central government for not appointing a legal member.
The apex court, on August 28, directed the two other members to go on leave till a legal member is appointed, thereby suspending functioning of the CERC. The regulator has a chairman, and two other members are needed to complete the quorum for conducting hearings.
In its order on Friday, the Supreme Court said, “We are thus not inclined to vary the arrangement made vide order dated 28th August, 2020, which shall continue till such time as the person of law is so appointed. We consider appropriate to place the matter on 26th October, 2020, for further directions with the hope that the process will be completed by that time.”
Speaking with Business Standard, advocate Sharma said the Supreme Court has taken the firm’s view if sanctity of their order dated April 2018 will be maintained.
“The Supreme Court dismissed the prayers of the central government to allow technical members to resume office with the observation that the government has not only failed to appoint members in electricity tribunals but also failed to appoint members in other tribunals in this country in due time,” Sharma said.