Friday, June 21, 2013

APTEL stays MERC Order on CSS

The Appellate Tribunal has stayed (for now) the MERC Order on Cross Subsidy Surcharge being levied by RINFRA.

The Order was passed today (21st June, 2013) and is available online, here:

In my opinion, this is an important Order even if simply from the perspective that ANY element of tariff CANNOT be levied without it being clearly discussed with the public/consumers.

Also the Commission needs to give SPEAKING ORDERS explaining their reasoning and the rationale behind it.

This is only an Interim Stay on collection of CSS and the status quo to be restored as what it was before the MERC Order. Merits of the case will be argued in the 1st week of August.

A few excerpts of the Order are given below for your reference...

"The R-Infra on 07.1.2013 filed a petition before the State Commission in case No.3 of 2013 i.e. the present proceedings, seeking for determination of Cross Subsidy Surcharge for Open Access consumers. In this petition, only the other distribution licensees and the Government of Maharashtra alone were impleaded as a party and only they were heard. In fact, on 7.2.2013 the Government of Maharashtra had sent a letter to the State Commission to de-link the trajectory for reduction in Cross Subsidy Surcharge from the determination of Cross Subsidy Surcharge." 

"When the prayer was made by the R-Infra in Case No.3 of 2013 seeking for the determination of Cross Subsidy Surcharge, the State Commission did not choose to issue notice to the consumers with reference to the said issue. On the other hand after hearing the distribution licensees and the Government, the State Commission has passed the impugned order dated 10.5.2013 revising the Cross Subsidy Surcharge applicable to changeover consumers by increasing the Cross Subsidy Surcharge to a great extent without hearing them." 

"We are unable to understand as to why the State Commission had hurriedly passed the impugned order with reference to this issue which is admittedly pending before the State Commission in MYT proceedings as well as in Appeal No.178 of 2011 before this Tribunal. No reasons have been given in the impugned order with regard to the urgency."

"It is also noticed that the State Commission has decided to determine Cross Subsidy in the present proceedings after getting the view of the Government of Maharashtra without hearing the parties who are likely to be affected due to the high increase in the Cross Subsidy Surcharge."

"We find that there is prima-facie merit in this contention. That apart, the balance of convenience also in our view lies in favour of the Appellants." 

"If the impugned order, with reference to the increase in Cross Subsidy Surcharge is not stayed pending adjudication of the present Appeals, the Appellants will have to pay Surcharge which is increased to 1000% and 400% respectively and this would cause grave prejudice to the consumers once such increase of Cross Subsidy Surcharge has been collected from the changeover consumers."

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