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CERC likely to be non-functional till Oct 26 as SC quashes Centre’s plea

The SC has turned down the plea made by the Centre and has refused to allow the CERC to resume functioning without the appointment of Member (Law)

The SC has turned down the plea made by the Centre and has refused to allow the CERC to resume functioning without the appointment of Member (Law).
  • Since the SC has now scheduled the next hearing in the case on October 26, it means that the CERC is going to remain non-functional for at least another month.

  • Additional Solicitor General Madhvi Divan has told the apex court that the recruitment of the person from Law is now on track

New Delhi: The Supreme Court has turned down the plea made by the Centre and has refused to allow the Central Electricity Regulatory Commission (CERC) to resume functioning without the appointment of Member (Law). The apex court reiterated on Friday that the newly appointed members of the CERC should continue to be on leave till the required appointment is made. Since the SC has now scheduled the next hearing in the case on October 26, it means that the CERC is going to remain non-functional for at least another month.

“We are thus not inclined to vary the arrangement made vide order dated 28th August, 2020 which shall continue till such time as the person of Law is so appointed. We consider appropriate to place the matter on 26th October, 2020 for further directions with the hope that the process (appointment) will be completed by that time,” the Supreme Court said in its ruling.

‘Recruitment of CERC Member (Law) on track’

While contending that the working of the CERC should not continue to be in a state of standstill, Additional Solicitor General Madhvi Divan said that the recruitment of the person from Law is now on track and post the selection process, the matter has been referred to the IB for its report. Thereafter, the recommendation will be made to be placed before the ACC, she said. However, on being asked by the top court about the timeline, Divan said that it may be difficult to give the exact time frame.

SC pulls up govt for failing to fill vacancies in Tribunals on time

While noting that there are many Tribunals which are non-functional or hardly functional because vacancies have been left un-filled, the Supreme Court said that this is the larger issue which the government must examine when it creates Tribunals. “... vacancies must be filled in time anticipating even the future vacancies. This has not happened. There are Tribunals even more important than the Tribunal in question in terms of their remits, where such a situation prevails,” the Supreme Court bench consisting of Justice SK Kaul and Justice Krishna Murari said.

The backdrop

The Supreme Court had asked two members of CERC on August 28 to go on leave until the time Member (Law) is appointed. These two members are IS Jha, former Chairman of PowerGrid and former bureaucrat Arun Goyal. While Jha was appointed to the post in January 2019, Goyal was appointed on April 7 this year. The Supreme Court has left the CERC with only its Chairperson PK Pujari.

Also read: Rs 90,000-crore package: PFC, REC have disbursed Rs 24,674 cr to discoms, says RK Singh

CERC presided over 130-140 hearings each in July and August. Because of the Supreme Court’s ruling, all new and partly-heard hearings have been put on hold since the quorum for hearing should consist of two members, besides the CERC Chairperson.

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