'Pass order on tariff revision only after appointing law member'

As tariff fixation was an adjudicatory task, it was mandatory that a member with legal expertise is on the bench, said the petitioners, contending that the commission lacked the jurisdiction to hear the tariff petitions filed by Tangedco, Tantransco and SLDC.
Madras High Court
Madras High Court

MADURAI: The Tamil Nadu Electricity Regulatory Commission (TNERC), that has been organising public hearings across the State to elicit the views of stakeholders before taking a decision on the proposal to increase power tariff, should pass the final order only after appointing Law Member to the panel, said Madurai bench of the Madras High Court.

However, the commission can continue the proceedings and take the final decision immediately after appointing the member, Justice GR Swaminathan clarified in his order on Wednesday.

The order came on petitions filed by K Venkatachalam, chief advisor, Tamil Nadu Spinning Mills Association; Arun Arunachalam, MD, Arun Alloy Steels; and G Srinivasan, GM, Sripathi Paper and Boards, who sought a direction asking the commission not to hear the tariff revision petitions till the government appointed a Member-Legal.

As tariff fixation was an adjudicatory task, it was mandatory that a member with legal expertise is on the bench, said the petitioners, contending that the commission lacked the jurisdiction to hear the tariff petitions filed by Tangedco, Tantransco and SLDC.

But the counsel representing TNERC and government argued that tariff fixation was regulatory and not adjudicatory. Therefore, it was not necessary that a person with legal background should sit on the bench to hear the petitions, the counsel said.

Justice Swaminathan allowed the Commission to go ahead with the proceedings and finalise the matters, but not formally declare the order. “The moment the appointment of the Legal Member is notified, the TNERC is free to formally dispose of the tariff petitions,” he said.

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