Petition No. 14 of 2006
Date of hearing: September 27, 2006
Date of Order:October 31, 2006
|In the matter of||:||Review of General Conditions of Tariff of Seasonal Industries and consequential review of Tariff Order for the year 2006-07.|
|In the matter of||:||1.||Punjab Rice Millers Association (Regd.), Booth No.16, Phase 1, New Grain Market, Sirhind Road, Patiala, through Shri Tarsem Lal Saini, its President.|
|2.||Punjab Cotton Factories and Ginners Association (Regd.), Shop No.109, New Grain Market, Muktsar, through Shri Bhagwan Bansal, its President.|
|1.||Secretary, Punjab State Electricity Board,|
|The Mall, Patiala.|
|Punjab State Electricity Board, The Mall, Patiala.|
|Present||:||Shri Jai Singh Gill, Chairman|
|Smt. Baljit Bains, Member|
|Shri Satpal Singh Pall, Member|
|For the Petitioner||:||Shri Navin Batra, Advocate|
|For the Board||:||Sh.N.K.Khanna, Advisor Commercial & Regulatory Affairs|
|Sh. R.K.Singla, Director Tariff Regulations II|
This petition has been filed seeking review of the General Conditions of Tariff relating to Seasonal Industries and consequential review of Tariff Order dated 10.5.2006 passed by the Commission in which rates of tariff and other charges for Seasonal Industries were revised.
There is a delay of 19 days in filing the petition and the petitioners pray for condonation of delay on the ground that they had been submitting representations to the Commission in this regard well before the expiry of period of limitation.
Notice was issued to the Board and a reply on its behalf has been filed on 23.8.2006. It is stated therein that there is a delay in filing the petition and that tariff already decided for FY 2006-07 may be allowed to be continued and the petitioners asked to present their views during public hearings at the time of consideration of the ARR for the year 2007-08. It is further stated that there was no proposal from the Board in the Tariff Petition to introduce recovery of MMC during off season nor was there any objection by the Board to do so. However, the instructions in force prior to the issue of the General Conditions of Tariff by the Commission led to several disputes, court cases and audit paras which will be minimized by the present General Conditions of Tariff which, therefore, do not require any change now.
Arguments have been heard. The learned counsel for the petitioners urged that as the proposal to introduce MMC during off season as well as to vary the energy rates was not put to the public while inviting objections to the proposed General Conditions of Tariff, the entire issue was not within the knowledge of the petitioners at the time of processing of the Tariff Application. In the circumstances, a review is maintainable under Regulation 64 of the Conduct of Business Regulations, 2005 specially when the tariff structure in respect of the petitioners has been radically altered while the petitioners were not in a position to work out its implications. It was also averred that in all likelihood, the new dispensation would result in additional financial implications to the industry for which there is no justification. The representative of the Board on the other hand reiterated the submissions made in the reply filed by it.
In the light of the position brought out above, it is now necessary to examine and determine the scope of review under the Electricity Act and other relevant legal provisions as also to see whether such a review would be justified in the circumstances of this case. Under Section 94 of the Electricity Act, 2003, the Commission, for the purpose of any enquiry or proceedings under the Act has the same powers as vested in a Civil Court under the Code of Civil Procedure 1908 in respect of the matters listed in that section and one of the matters listed is ‘reviewing its decisions, directions and orders’. As such, relevant provisions of the Code of Civil Procedure are applicable to review petitions. Under the Code of Civil Procedure, a review can be entertained only if the conditions listed in Order XLVII Rule 1 of the Code are fulfilled. As per this provision, review is allowed only on three specific grounds namely:-
grounds arising from the discovery of new and important matter or evidence, which after the exercise of due diligence, was not within the applicant’s knowledge or could not be produced by him at the time when the order was passed; or
on account of some mistake or error apparent on the face of record; or
for any other sufficient reason.
Further, Regulation 64 of the Punjab State Electricity Regulatory Commission (Conduct of Business) Regulations, 2005 also provides for the same grounds for filing review as mentioned in Order XLVII Rule 1 of the Code of Civil Procedure.
The rates of Tariff in respect of the petitioners have been fixed in accordance with the General Conditions of Tariff approved by the Commission. At the time of inviting objections from the public in respect of the General Conditions of Tariff, only the draft as prepared by the Board was put to the public which did not contain any specifics regarding varying of energy charges or imposition of MMC in the off season. Clearly, the persons affected by the changes made through the General Conditions of Tariff did not get an opportunity to file objections or to be heard. In view of this, the petition for review is maintainable under Rule 1 (1) of Order XLVII of the Code of Civil Procedure and Regulation 64 of the Punjab State Electricity Regulatory Commission (Conduct of Business) Regulations, 2005 and we find it a fit case for accepting the petition. It is, therefore, ordered that the General Conditions of Tariff made applicable by the Commission! w.e.f. 1.4.2006 shall not apply for the financial year 2006-07 in so far as Seasonal Industries are concerned and the instructions in this respect as applicable before the issue of General Conditions of Tariff will continue to apply for the financial year 2006-07. Consequently Tariff for Seasonal Industries as it existed prior to 1.4.2006 shall be applicable for the financial year 2006-07 and the Tariff Order dated 10.5.2006 passed by the Commission for the year 2006-07 is hereby amended to that extent.
|(Satpal Singh Pall)||(Baljit Bains)||(Jai Singh Gill)|