Madurai Bench of Madras HC directs TNERC to appoint legal member within three months – The New Indian Express

Chennai News

By Express News Service

MADURAI:  The Madurai Bench of Madras High Court on Wednesday directed the Tamil Nadu Electricity Regulatory Commission (TNERC) to appoint a legal member to the commission within three months. A division bench comprising Justices SS Sundar and S Srimathy gave the direction while ending the legal battle that was pending before the court on whether TNERC could be permitted to hear the tariff revision petitions filed by TANGEDCO, TANTRANSCO and SLDC without a legal member in the panel.

A single judge of the court in a batch of petitions filed by the Tamil Nadu Spinning Mills Association and two others, had allowed the commission to hear the revision petitions in the absence of a legal member, but had restrained it from taking a final decision on them.

Following appeals filed by the TNERC and the government, this order was stayed by the above division bench on September 1, which enabled the government to later implement the power tariff hike on September 10.

Passing final orders on the matter on Wednesday, the division bench allowed the appeals filed by the government and TNERC, with a direction to the government to fill up the legal member post in the commission within three months. The bench also dismissed an appeal filed by the spinning mills association which challenged the single judge’s decision permitting TNERC to hear the revision petitions.

Senior counsel P Wilson, who appeared on behalf of TNERC in the appeals, had argued that tariff fixation is a regulatory matter and thus a member-legal is not required for taking decision on the same. “TANGEDCO is suffering a loss of Rs 13,407 crore per annum and if tariff is not fixed there will be a further loss of Rs 1,500 crore per month. The Union government recently banned the purchase of electricity from neighbouring states by TN and this has serious ramifications if the present situation continues,” he had said.

On September 10, TNERC had accepted TANGEDCO’s tariff hike proposal, including the proposal to increase the tariff by 6% every year for all types of consumers till 2027. The tariff was revised after nearly eight years.