Delhi HC refuses to entertain plea on power subsidy
The Delhi High Court Tuesday refused to entertain a plea seeking a scheme to ensure underprivileged Delhi residents are not affected after the electricity subsidy lapses April 1.
These people consume less than 400 units power per month, the plea noted.
A division bench of Acting Chief Justice B.D. Ahmed and Justice Siddharth Mridul said the court "cannot interfere in policy matters of the government" and allowed petitioner to withdraw the plea and file representation before the government.
"This is a policy issue. We cannot direct government to frame the policy. You approach the government directly, we are not interfering in policy matters," said the bench.
The public interest litigation (PIL) filed by Anurag Kejriwal, member of Lok Satta Party, said Delhi residents will face high electricity tariff after March 31 due to the expiry of the government subsidy for consumers using less than 400 units a month.
Asking the petitioner's advocate to approach the government, the bench said it cannot decide each and every matter and it is "not the substitute for the government".
"You have to knock on the doors of your political leader to ask what they are doing," the bench remarked.
Advocate Zubeda Begum appearing for the Delhi government told the court that till March 31, it was giving subsidy and after that there is no such provision.
The plea said it should be ensured that underprivileged residents of Delhi consuming electricity up to 400 units are not affected adversely by the lapse of power subsidy until another government is duly elected.
It asked the court to ensure that underprivileged residents "do not have to bear unsubsidised tariff owing to a paralysis of governance and political posturing during the elections".
"The subsidy provided by the previous governments to ease the burden on the underprivileged and provide lifeline electricity at economic prices is set to expire March 31," the plea said.
Currently, consumers are charged a subsidised rate of Rs.2.70 per unit for consuming 200 or less units in a month. The actual cost per unit comes to Rs.3.90.
If consumption is 201-400 units per month, consumers are charged a subsidised rate of Rs.5 per unit against the actual cost of Rs.5.80.
Usually, the budgetary allocation for electricity subsidy is made under the annual budget.
However, the Aam Aadmi Party government resigned after 49 days in power, due to which the annual budget could not be passed. Subsequently, the budgetary allocations for Delhi were made in the vote on account passed Feb 17, 2014 by parliament.
The plea said no budgetary allocation was made in the interim budget for subsidising the electricity tariff for the underprivileged.
"Successive state governments in Delhi have been subsidising the tariff payable by consumers, inter alia, to ensure a resource as critical and essential as electricity does not remain beyond the grasp of the underprivileged," it said.
The plea added there are millions of residents in Delhi who cannot afford electricity without the aid and assistance of the government.
(Posted on 01-04-2014)