Friday, February 4, 2011

Supreme Court stays electricity tribunal order

TNEB was told to adjust in future bills excess penalty amount

The Supreme Court on Friday stayed an order of the Appellate Tribunal for Electricity directing the Tamil Nadu Electricity Board to adjust in future bills the excess penalty amount so far paid by members of the Tamil Nadu Spinning Mills Association and others.
The Tribunal had held that the Board was entitled to collect excess demand charges and excess energy charges from H T industrial and commercial consumers during evening peak hours for the quota fixed only prospectively and not with retrospective effect. It had said, “the excess demand charges and excess energy charges for evening peak restriction have to be given effect to only from May 4, 2010, the date of the order wherein the position was clearly stated, and not from November 28, 2008, when the first order was passed.”
A three-judge Bench, comprising Chief Justice S.H. Kapadia, Justice K.S. Radhakrishnan and Justice Swatanter Kumar, stayed the Tribunal's order, while admitting an appeal filed by the TNEB on condition that the Board executed a bank guarantee for Rs.75 crore in favour of the Supreme Court Registry in two weeks. The Bench said that the stay would come into operation on furnishing of the bank guarantee.
Earlier Solicitor General Gopal Subramaniam and counsel R. Nedumaran, appearing for the Board, submitted that it was losing Rs.300 crore as a result of the Tribunal order.
Since senior counsel K.V. Viswanathan and others, appearing for the respondents, disputed the figure. The CJI sought to know from the Board how the figure of Rs.300 crore was arrived at.
The Solicitor General said the amount would be around Rs.75 crore in respect of the respondents. Accordingly the Bench directed the Board to furnish the bank guarantee for this amount.
In its appeal, the Board said there were about 7,000 HT industrial and commercial consumers in the State. In
respect of about 5,000 consumers, quota for demand and energy was fixed and 2,000 consumers had violated the quota fixed during peak hours. The Board had levied excess demand charges and excess energy charges on the violators.
The Board said that it must be noted that the other industrial consumers had paid the same without any protest.
Taking advantage of this order many consumers had stopped paying the current monthly bills and issued letters for adjustment.

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