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Delhi HC adjourns plea for quashing vacancy circulars issued by Power Ministry

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The Delhi High Court has recently adjourned a plea filed by the Himalaya Power Producers Association that seeks the quashing of vacancy circulars issued by the Ministry of Power, Union of India for filling the post of Chairperson and Technical Members of the Appellate Tribunal for Electricity (APTEL).

A single-judge bench of Justice Rekha Palli granted the Ministry of Power time to obtain instructions. The matter has been listed for further hearing on October 25.

According to the petition, the Vacancy Circulars have been issued by the Ministry of Power in anticipation that the Chairperson and Member, APTEL will retire after three years of their appointment, despite the fact that the term of the Chairperson and Members has been modified to 4 years by The Tribunals Reforms Act, 2021 (‘Reforms Act 2021’) dated August 13, 2021 passed by the Ministry of Law and Justice, Government of India.

The petition avers, Ministry of Power issued the aforesaid circulars for inviting applications for the post of Chairperson and Technical Member of APTEL, by representing that their three (3) year terms are expiring on August 12, 2021 and November 28, 2021, respectively, it adds, this has been issued in complete disregard and in teeth of the Reforms Act, 2021, which categorically provides that the term of presiding officers (chairperson and member) of the Tribunals shall be for a period of 4 years.

The petition further avers, that the Chairperson of APTEL recently demitted office on August 12, 2021, however, on account of the passage of the Reforms Act, 2021, the said Chairperson’s tenure stands modified for a period of 4 years, which legally entitles the Chairperson to hold office, till August 12, 2022, furthermore, even the sitting technical member is scheduled to demit office on account of superannuation on November 28, 2021, hence leaving an important Tribunal like APTEL, has effectively only one functional bench as on date (with one judicial member and one technical member).

The Himalaya Power Producers Association was represented by Senior Advocate Rajshekhar Rao and Advocates Priyanka Bharti and Rahul Gaikwad.

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