SC gives Chandigarh HC three months to decide on discom privatisation

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Following protests from its engineers and other workers, the High Court in December had put in abeyance the privatisation of the discom. However, the apex court in January had stayed the High Court’s order.Following protests from its engineers and other workers, the High Court in December had put in abeyance the privatisation of the discom. However, the apex court in January had stayed the High Court’s order.

The Supreme Court has asked the High Court of Punjab and Haryana to expeditiously come to a final decision regarding the privatisation of the Chandigarh electricity distribution company (discom). The HC has been requested to issue an order “preferably within three months.”

Following protests from its engineers and other workers, the High Court in December had put in abeyance the privatisation of the discom. However, the apex court in January had stayed the High Court’s order.

The Supreme Court, in its latest ruling on Tuesday, said that the “interim order (staying the HC order) granted by this Court on 12th January 2021 to continue till the disposal of the pending Writ Petition (against privatisation) before the High Court”.

To usher inefficiency, the Union government had in May 2020 announced its plan to privatise the discoms in Union Territories (UTs), and Chandigarh was first UT to issue notice inviting bids for the same. Subsidiaries of Sterlite Power, ReNew Power, NTPC, Adani Transmission, Tata Power and Torrent Power have reportedly submitted their bids for the Chandigarh discom.

“We, however, make it clear that we have not expressed any opinion on the merits of the case and all contentions are left open,” the Supreme Court remarked. In its initial petition against privatisation, the UT Powermen Union had said that “no provision has been framed for reservation policy for the OBC, BC, sports personnel, ex-army personnel and various deprived sections of the society”. The petitioners also pointed out that the Chandigarh discom is running in profits and its transmission and distribution losses are less than the 15% threshold fixed by the Union power ministry.

After the recent acquisition of the Odisha discoms, Tata Power currently has the largest consumer base among private discoms. The company expects major discoms in Uttar Pradesh, Odisha, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Jharkhand and eight Union Territories to be offered for private takeovers as well.

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