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SC extends stay on CERC operations

SC extends stay on CERC operationsNew Delhi: TheSupreme Courton Monday lashed out at the government for not being able to appoint member law inCentral Electricity Regulatory Commission(CERC) in four months while extending the stay on functioning of the regulator.

“The Supreme Court has extended stay on CERC operations till end of January, 2021. No relief has been given on other plea to allow pronouncement of reserved orders,” advocate-on-record Ravi Sharma told ET.

CERC has not held hearings since August 28, after the Supreme Court asked two of its members to go on leave till the time a member-law is appointed. This left the regulator with just chairperson PK Pujari while the quorum for hearings is two members, besides the chair.

Thepowerministry informed the apex court that an approval from the Appointments Committee of Cabinet is awaited for appointment of CERC member law, sources said.

The sources said the court refused to allow CERC pass judgments reserved before August 28. CERC has filed an affidavit that orders in 177 cases are reserved.

The court, however, expressed anguish on delay in appointment of member law and adjourned the matter to January 20, 2021.

The two CERC members I S Jha, former Power Grid Corp chairman, and Arun Goyal, ex-bureaucrat, can join only after a member-law is appointed by the government. Jha took over as member CERC in January 2019 and Goyal was appointed on April 7 this year.

The Central government had taken an opinion from the attorney general while filling up the two positions before appointment of member-law. The attorney general had opined that Section 77 1 (a) of the Electricity Act, which provides for appointment of member engineering, and Section 77 1 (b) related to appointment of member-finance should be complied with as and when vacancies arise.

The Supreme Court had on April 14, 2018 directed state electricity commissions to appoint a member from the field of law with qualifications of a high court or district judge. The order mandated that the next vacancy in state commissions be filled up by a person with judicial background.

The power ministry had in April 2019 and October 2019 advertised job vacancy for member-law in CERC. However, the selection committee could not find candidates suitable to fill up the position and the process was shelved.

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