CASE NO. 4 of 1997
22.02.97 This order is with reference to three applications filed asking for time to go in appeal against the order passed by the Commission on 21st February rejecting the preliminary objections. Two identical applications have been moved by Sri K.N. Jena on behalf of Orissa Consumer Association and Sri Naba Kishore Mohapatra representing for the Trust for Research and Public Aid. Another application as a sequel to his oral submission was made by Sri Rajat Kumar Rath, Advocate representing, Orissa Sponge Iron Limited.
2. The Petitioners have stated that they were not satisfied with order of the Commission rejecting the preliminary objections and, therefore, they intend to go in appeal before the Hon'ble High Court for which time should be granted. It has been claimed by two of the objectors that with pre-judged mind the Commission is bent upon adjudicating on the application of the licensee with prejudice and hence they would not like to participate in the proceedings.
3. The Commission has carefully considered the facts stated in the application as well as oral submissions made for grant of time for appeal and for deferring the hearing of tariff application. The Commission has considered each one of the preliminary objections and has given its finding to the effect that there is no validity in any of the objections raised. The Commission feels that the objections have no solid basis and therefore there is no justification to adjourn the hearing and thereby put the tariff proceeding on the back burner. The postponement of tariff proceeding at this stage for the financial year 1997-98 will create insurmountable problem for implementation of the provisions of the OER Act, 1995 and will jeopardise the management of the electricity industry in the state in an efficient, economic and competitive manner which is one of the main aims of the Act.
4. The Commission is bound by provisions of Chapter VII of the OER Act, 1995 to conclude the tariff proceedings for financial 1997-98 and convey its decision on the tariff proposal well in time to enable the Gridco to submit calculation in conformity with the order passed by the commission The said calculation has to be examined by the Commission and after the decision of the Commission on the same it has to be published in the newspapers at least one week before the end of current financial year. If the hearing is postponed the tariff cannot be finalised for 1997-98 in time.
5. The existing tariff for 1996-97 will remain valid till 31.03.97 because it is a part of the provisional licence which expires on 31.03.97. Therefore if the tariff for financial 1997-98 cannot be finalised as per schedule drawn up by the Commission, there will be no legal basis for any tariff for the sale of electricity on and from 1.4.97.
6. Section 26 of the OER Act, 1995 lays down detai led procedure for the tariff proceeding for the ensuing financial year. GRIDCO's proposal for tariff have been filed in procedural conformity with the methodology laid down by the Commission and hence the Commission is bound to consider the application and take a decision on the same. In terms of Section 26(4) of OER Act, 1995 the Commission has to examine, deliberate upon and take a decision whether to accept reject or modify and if so to what extent. Keeping in view the time available to the he Commission and its schedule for the remaining part of the current financial year, the Commission has ,ranted as much reasonable opportunity as is possible for finalizing the tariff. The Commission is keenly conscious of tile parameters laid down in Sub-section 2 of Section 26 of the Act which enjoins on the Commission to give due importance to all the three factors namely the financial principles in the Electricity Supply Act, the factors which would encourage efficiency, economic use of the resources, etc. and the interest of the Consumers. The Commission feels that the special nature of a proceeding relating to a public utility must be appreciated and it has to be ensured that objection are not admitted which will affect not only the financial and economic factors but also the overall interest of the Consumers. It is felt by the Commission that though the objection has been raised by on behalf of some consumers association, admitting the same objection would adversely affect overall interest of the consumers and will affect supply and distribution of an essential public utility service like electricity.
7. The Commission would also like to note that in accordance with Section 10(5) of the OER Act, 1995, the Commission is required to consult to the extent the Commission considers appropriate from time to time such persons or groups of person who may be affected or likely to be affected by the decisions of the Commission . The Commission has carefully considered the extent to which it is appropriate and practicable to extend the process of consultation for finalizing , decisions as a quasi-judicial authority. Reasonable opportunity has been granted to as many interested parties as possible and no objection has been summarily brushed aside. The validity of all objections have been carefully considered and orders passed.
8. In the circumstances, the Commission finds no justification to delay or defer the hearing which is ordered to be resumed.
Typed to my dictation and corrected by me.