The Central Electricity Regulator Will Not Hear Any Petitions in September

The person of law is expected to be appointed before others

September 3, 2020


In a significant development, the Supreme Court of India has asked two Central Electricity Regulatory Commission (CERC) members to go on leave until the Commission appoints a member of law.

The central Commission is required by law to first appoint a person with a judicial background as one of its members. The judgment was passed on a contempt petition filed by advocate KK Agarwal, in which the respondent was the union power secretary Sanjiv Nandan Sahai.

The Ministry of Power had taken the Auditor General’s opinion before the appointment of IS Jha and Arun Goyal as CERC members. The Supreme Court said that the appointment of any member should not have taken place without first appointing the member of law.  With this order, two of its four members have been sent on leave.

The Court noted that the Solicitor General Tushar Mehta had submitted that the process of appointing a person of law is expected to be concluded in September. The member of law position has been vacant as the Commission has not been able to find a suitable person for the role.

As per the order, any member appointed after the judgment should not be permitted to function as it would be contrary to the ruling.

“We make it clear that our order is not a reflection on the merits of the persons so appointed, but it is necessary to ensure that the true intent and spirit of the order passed by us is adhered to,” the Court noted.

“If the person of law is so appointed within this period, the persons who would go on leave would be permitted to rejoin,” the Court added.

The power ministry has re-issued a job vacancy circular for member-law. The process for appointing a person of law is expected to be concluded next month, until which all petition will be on hold.

Meanwhile, in April this year, in a reshuffle of top bureaucrats of India, the central government appointed Indu Shekhar Chaturvedi as the new secretary of the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE). According to the order issued by the appointment committee of Cabinet, Chaturvedi replaced Anand Kumar. Chaturvedi is a 1987 batch Jharkhand cadre officer, while Kumar is a Kerala cadre officer (1984 batch). Kumar was appointed as the MNRE secretary in June 2017.

In other CERC-related news, the commission approved the introduction of the ‘Green Term-Ahead Market’ contracts on the Indian Energy Exchange (IEX), adding that it would provide an avenue for short-term trading of renewable energy. The Commission said that the availability of the trading platform would attract participation from buyers and sellers and, in the long term, will promote renewable energy trading capacity.