Case BriefsTribunals/Commissions/Regulatory Bodies

Appellate Tribunal for Electricity (APTEL): A Coram of Manjula Chellur, J. (Chairperson) and S.D. Dubey (Technical Member), allowed an appeal which was filed under Section 111 of the Electricity Act, 2003 against order passed by the Uttar Pradesh Electricity Regulatory Commission (State Commission) whereby the State Commission had rejected the petition of the Appellant seeking loss of fixed charges on account of the lower plant availability of 54.78% only, during the year 2017-18, which was directly due to the Appellant being not able to declare capacity to the full extent wholly and exclusively due to the persistent non-payment of the bills in accordance with the terms of Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) by the Respondent No. 2, Uttar Pradesh Power Corporation Limited (UPPCL) for the Electricity generated and supplied by the Appellant.

Facts:

The Appellant is a generating company within the meaning of Section 2(28) of the Electricity Act, 2003 having established a 3 x 660 MW power plant in villages, existing under the provisions of the Companies Act, 2013 in the State of Uttar Pradesh. The Respondent 1 – State Commission is the Electricity Regulatory Commission for the State of Uttar Pradesh exercising powers and discharging its functions under the provisions of the Electricity Act, 2003, it determined the tariff for the supply of electricity and also exercises the powers to adjudicate and decide on any disputes that arise between the Appellant and UPPCL. The Respondent 2 UPPCL is the Apex Body in the State of Uttar Pradesh which is overseeing the distribution and supply of electricity for and on behalf of the Distribution Companies (Respondents 3-6). They have authorized UPPCL to execute/sign the Power Purchase Agreements and also to carry out all necessary actions on their behalf in relation to the power purchase and supply. For the establishment of the generating station of the appellant, a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) dated 22-04-2010 was entered into between the Government of Uttar Pradesh (GoUP) and a consortium of companies led by Bajaj Hindusthan Sugar Limited (BHSL) under a Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV), the Appellant which had already been incorporated by Respondent 2. The Appellant and UPPCL had entered into a PPA. The State Commission had allowed provisional tariff of Rs 1.88 towards fixed cost and Rs 2.95 as variable charge computed on capital expenditure of Rs 12,868 crores incurred. The said provisional tariff of fixed charges was further revised to Rs 2.24 with effect from 07-03-2018. The final tariff of the Appellant was pending determination from the date of commercial operation. The Appellant had been supplying the entire capacity of the generating station to UPPCL in terms of the PPA however UPPCL had been making substantial delays in making payment of the Appellant’s invoices as per the provisions of the PPA and not been providing and maintaining the payment security mechanism as per PPA. The Appellant had filed a petition before the State Commission seeking directions for payments of the outstanding dues. The State Commission had dismissed the petition based on the undertaking of UPPCL to clear all the dues forthwith and that the escrow mechanism would be created at the earliest. during the year for the purchase of coal and the Appellant was left with only a sum of Rs 2,833 crore out of which the Appellant had to meet its debt service obligations, working capital cost and O&M Charges including salary payment as essential and inevitable cash outgo prior to incurring any amount on procurement of coal. The Appellant kept on financing the coal purchase during the period from working capital facilities to the extent best possible and finally consumed the entire working capital facilities limits as available from time to time. Due to non-payment by UPPCL and the Appellant became a defaulter of its lenders with respect to working capital facilities also in addition to the default of payment of interest and installments of its term loans. This forced the Appellant in a financially stressed situation and the lenders started adjusting the entire money they received towards their dues, owing to which there was no or very little money available with the Appellant.

Arguments:

The Counsel for the appellant, submitted that due to default on the part of UPPCL the appellant has suffered financial misery and was required to pay the coal companies 100% of the cost of coal and also pay 100% of the railway freight in advance, for which the Appellant is required to be paid in time to ensure adequate working capital. The UPPCL have not disputed the fact that it has continuously defaulted in payment of the monthly bills of the Appellant for continuously 10 months in a row. The only defense of UPPCL was that the Appellant was compensated by Late Payment Surcharge (LPSC).

Issues:

  1. Whether the Appellant has changed its prayers during the course of the proceedings in the matter and if so, should the change of prayer be allowed?
  2. Whether Second Respondent has paid the outstanding amounts to the Appellant in accordance with the terms of the PPA and the Regulations specifically in light of the contention of UPPCL that the average payment made during the period was never more than 90 days;
  3. If not, whether the Appellant has actually suffered losses solely due to the non-payment of its outstanding dues in time;
  4. Whether the Regulations can be relaxed to allow the Appellant to recover its full fixed cost for the impugned period and as a consequence, can the PAF of Appellant be reduced to 54.78% from 85%;
  5. Whether late payment surcharge as envisaged in the Regulations and PPA are adequate to compensate the loss;
  6. Whether in facts and circumstances of the case, the Appellant is entitled to carrying cost?

Findings:

The Tribunal while setting aside the order of the State Commission allowed the appeal explaining all the issues at length. The Court relied on the principle founded in 1848 in Robinson v. Harman which supported innocent parties in the event of breach of contract. The Court further answered the issues at length as follows:

Issue No. 1: that the Appellant has not changed its prayer during the course of the proceedings either through its short Rejoinder Note or in Final Written submissions, as alleged by the Second Respondent.

Issue No. 2: that the second Respondent (UPPCL) has not paid the outstanding amounts to the Appellant in accordance with the terms of the PPA and the Regulations. We dismiss the concept of average payments introduced by R2 to justify its default of non-payment. We further observe that the outstanding of the Appellant remained substantial during most of the period in financial year 2017-18. Further, Respondent UPPCL has failed to establish Escrow/ Payment Security Mechanism as yet despite repeated categorical directions by the State Commission in its various orders.

Issue No. 3: Having established a clear correlation between delayed payments and coal shortage, we hold that the Appellant has actually suffered losses solely due to the non-payment of its outstanding dues in time by R-2. As a result, the applicant was not able to procure sufficient coal to declare full Capacity in spite of its generating units being technically available.

Issue No. 4: Having regard to various rulings of his Tribunal and the Hon’ble Apex Court, we are of the view that the instant case is a fit case to relax the Norms to allow the Appellant to recover its full fixed cost for the impugned period at actual PAF of 54.78% instead of normative 85% in the interest of justice and equity.

Issue No. 5: that in view of the facts& circumstances of the matter, late payment surcharge as envisaged in the Regulations and PPA is not meant for or otherwise, adequate to compensate the consequential loss suffered by the Appellant in full. Hence, it is entitled to further relief over and above LPSC.

Issue No. 6: that as per the settled principles of law, the Appellant is entitled to restitution and thus, to carrying cost from the date of capacity lost to date of actual payment at the prevailing rate of interest in accordance with UPERC Regulations.

[Lalitpur Power Generation Co. Ltd. v. Uttar Pradesh Electricity Regulatory Commission, 2020 SCC OnLine APTEL 82, decided on 28-09-2020]


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Case BriefsHigh Courts

Punjab and Haryana High Court: Rajbir Sehrawat, J. quashed the FIR after the parties entered into the compromise as same was held to be done with the free consent and without any pressure.

A petition was filed under Section 482 of Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 for quashing the FIR and all consequential proceedings as parties have entered into compromise against the offence committed under Section 420 of the Penal Code, 1860.

A report was received from the Judicial Magistrate in which it had been noticed that the matter has been compromised with the intervention of respectable and friends of both the parties, compromise has been affected with their free consent and without any pressure or undue influence from any quarter.

High Court while allowing the petition discussed resolving the civil and criminal dispute by giving absolute freedom to the parties to settle their dispute by compromise with certain legal consequences. The court with regard to the compromised in criminal cases said that In criminal cases as tend to cast their effect and consequences even upon the society at large. Therefore, the law prescribes punishment, severe punishments and extreme punishments, including the death penalty for criminal acts. The criminal law provides for the compromise between the parties under Section 320 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 which permits compounding even at the appellate and revisional stage but this section relates only to the offences prescribed under the Indian Penal Code. For other offences the power lies with the High Court in order to maintain the sanctity of the procedure prescribed for a criminal trial.

Further, the Court also put forth the case of Gian Singh v. State of Punjab, (2012) 10 SCC 303 in which the Supreme Court had amply clarified the legal position in recognizing the position of compromise. The court in the above mentioned case held that the High Court must consider whether it would be unfair or contrary to the interest of justice to continue with the criminal proceeding or continuation of the criminal proceeding would tantamount to abuse of process of law despite settlement and compromise between the victim and wrongdoer and whether to secure the ends of justice, it is appropriate that criminal case is put to an end and if the answer to the above question(s) is in affirmative, the High Court shall be well within its jurisdiction to quash the criminal proceeding.”

Thus the Court held that no useful purpose would be served by keeping the proceedings alive. It will be in the interest of justice, if the settlement reached between the parties is accepted.[Harmesh Singh v. State of Punjab, 2019 SCC OnLine P&H 1322, decided on 29-07-2019]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Himachal Pradesh High Court: Chander Bhusan Barowalia, J. disposed of a petition considering the long litigation between the parties and gave directions to the competent authority.

In the present matter, the petitioner was an unemployed divorced lady who got selected for the post of Anganwadi worker but an appeal was made against the same by the Respondent 4 (who has been working on the post for more than 6 years) which even got accepted and the selection was set aside. Being aggrieved by the said order, the petitioner maintained appeal before the learned Divisional Commissioner, which was dismissed. Thereafter, the petitioner against the impugned order passed by the learned Divisional Commissioner maintained writ petition before the Court. Shalini Thakur, counsel for the petitioner argued that since the petitioner was a divorcee, therefore could not be treated as a member of the family for deciding the income of the family, which was taken as the basis for rejection of appointment. And since she is a single mother she had a son to look after all by herself. While the counsels for the respondents S.C. Sharma, Shiv Pal Manhans and P.K. Bhatti, Additional Advocate Generals with Raju Ram Rahi, Deputy Advocate General, contended that the petitioner has given her father’s address, which makes it evident that she was, in fact, residing with her father. And, that the Tehsildar also gave his findings establishing the same. Further, it was also alleged that the petitioner has remarried.

The Court after taking into consideration the long litigation between the parties, the situation of Respondent 4, who is working for more than 6 years on the post and the fact that the petitioner is a divorcee, who cannot be taken as a family member of her father for the purpose of income held and directed that for the interest of justice to be met the competent authority to consider the case of the petitioner for appointment as Anganwadi worker in and around the place of her residence in near future.[Heera Mani v. State of H.P., CWP No. 2772 of 2017, decided on 21-05-2019]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Rajasthan High Court: The Bench of Arun Bhansali, J., allowed the application filed to seek corrections, however, the Court ordered the applicant to deposit cost in regard to this.

The facts of the case were that the petitioners sought correction in one of the petitioner’s father’s name in the cause title of the order passed. It was claimed that due to some clerical mistake and typographical errors, mistake qua petitioner’s father’s name was committed and, therefore, in the interest of justice, the same should be permitted to be corrected. Along with the application, the amended cause title was also filed.

The Court in lucid words stated that nature of mistake which was claimed to be inadvertent typographical/clerical errors indicated that it was actually the result of casualness on the part of petitioners/counsel for the petitioners and such nature of mistakes leads to unnecessary burden on the Court in thereafter permitting corrections once the cases are decided. However, in view of the fact that once the petition had been decided and if corrections were not permitted, the petitioners would not be able to reap the benefits of the order, the Court permitted the corrections. Nevertheless, for the casualness on the part of the petitioners/counsel for the petitioners, it was ordered that the petitioner deposit a sum of Rs 2000 as the cost with the Legal Services Authority of the Court. [Pep Singh Rathore v. State Of Rajasthan, 2019 SCC OnLine Raj 501, decided on 17-05-2019]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Karnataka High Court: A Bench of B.A. Patil, J., allowed an application for the anticipatory bail filed by an accused, an engineering student to appear for the examination.

The petition was filed by the accused-petitioner under Section 438 of Code of Criminal Procedure to release him on anticipatory bail for the offences punishable under Sections 323, 324, 504, 506, 354-B read 34 of the Penal Code and Sections 8 and 12 of POCSO Act.

The fact of the case are that the complainant was in her house with her husband and daughter, the accused-petitioner due to some old rivalry went near the house, took a stone and started quarrelling. The accused-petitioner also caused grievous injury by biting middle finger of the complainant’s daughter.

The learned counsel for the petitioner, Paksha Keerthana K., submitted that there was a delay in the filing of the complaint. It was further submitted that the petitioner-accused was not present at the time of the alleged incident and the injuries suffered by the complainant are simple in nature, thus prayed for the bail under the statutory provision.

The learned counsel for the respondent, Namitha Mahesh, vehemently argued and submitted that petitioner-accused tried to molest the daughter of the complainant and caused grievous injuries and is not available for the investigation or interrogation, thus prayed for the dismissal of the petition.

High Court on noting the submissions of the parties held that the offences under POCSO were not made on the accused-petitioner and thus in the interest of justice the anticipatory bail application was granted.[Pramod D.M. v. State of Karnataka, Criminal Petition No. 2616 of 2019, decided on 16-04-2019]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Delhi High Court: The Bench of Sanjeev Sachdeva, J., in a criminal revision petition presented before him, stated that no interference was required from the earlier order of conviction by the trial court though in the interest of justice cumulative sentence of the petitioner be reduced.

In the present case, petitioner impugned the judgment whereby the Appellate Court dismissed the appeal of the petitioner impugning order on conviction and order on sentence. Petitioner was convicted of the offences under Sections 380 and 454 Part II of the Penal Code, 1860. Both the sentences were directed to run successively.

An FIR was registered on the complaint of Kaushik Ganguly, who contended that while leaving the house he had locked it properly and on his return the balcony door was found to be open. On finding the same, he saw one person jumping from the balcony and running away and when he raised the alarm the said person was caught. The said person is the petitioner in the present case.

Learned Counsel for the petitioner, S.C. Sagar, submitted that, the trial court, as well as the Appellate Court, erred in not appreciating that no offence under Section 454 IPC was made out as the ingredients of Section 443 IPC (lurking house-trespass) were not made out. Extending his contention, he also stated that petitioner had undergone incarceration of 3 years 10 months and 20 days and therefore earned remissions of 9 months and 25 days.

It was noted that in terms of Section 443 IPC, for a person to commit lurking house-trespass, the prosecution not only has to establish house trespass but has also to prove that the accused has taken precautions to conceal such house trespass from some person who has a right to exclude or eject the trespasser.

Since, no evidence was placed to prove the above, the offence of lurking house trespass was not made out. Though, from facts of the case, it was clear that the offence of House breaking under Section 445 IPC, punishable under Section 454 IPC was made out.

Thus, there was no infirmity in the order of the trial court in convicting the petitioner for the offence under Sections 380 and 454, Penal Code, 1860. Order of conviction does not warrant any interference. [Lokesh Kumar v. State (NCT of Delhi), 2019 SCC OnLine Del 7007, decided on 12-02-2019]

Case BriefsForeign Courts

Eswatini High Court: This matter was brought before a Bench of M. Langwenya, J. for judgment on sentence.

Facts of the case were such that accused was found guilty of murder with extenuating circumstances. The accused was found to have been drinking alcohol at the time when the deceased was stabbed. Pieces of evidence were present showing that the accused was provoked by deceased which reduced the moral blameworthiness due to its effect on the state of mind of accused.

Accused defended by submitting mitigating factors such as his young age, his remorsefulness towards the crime, that he is a first-time offender and that he had already been in the custody for five years, five months and two days. Court referred the case of Samkeliso Madati Tsela v. Rex, (2010) [2011] SZSC 13 in order to decide on the sentence of accused which is an authority setting out the appropriate range of sentences in cases of murder in the country.

High Court was of the view that murder was a serious offence but considering the personal circumstances of the accused and his young age, Court was inclined to sentence him to twelve years of imprisonment, where the time period already spent in custody would be adjusted. [Rex v. Lwazi Tshepo Kubheka, Case No. 43 of 2016, decided on 15-11-2018]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Karnataka High Court: A Division bench comprising of CJ Dinesh Maheshwari and S. Sujatha, J. pulled up an advocate who tampered with court records and directed the Registrar of the Court to make a specific report as regards the functioning of the office.

The petitioner, an advocate by profession, had filed the instant petition whereon certain office objections were raised by the Registry of  High Court. In order to overcome those objections, the petitioner applied whitener on a certain paragraph of the petition and then submitted that in view of such deletion, the petition no longer remained a public interest litigation.

The Court took serious note of the tampering of court records by the petitioner and expressed its reservations thereto. It was further noted that the petitioner initially submitted that the person-in-charge of the file had advised him to put whitener on that specific part of the pleading. It was observed that it was inconceivable as to how the petitioner being an advocate himself, could tamper with court records even at the instance of some other person. Upon expressing of such concern by the court, the petitioner submitted a memo along with an unconditional apology.

In view of the conduct of the petitioner, the court declined to entertain the present petition. However, in the interest of justice, it was left open for him to file a fresh writ petition which would be entertained in accordance with law.[C.S. Madhu v. Karnataka Information Commission, Writ Petition No. 1326 of 2018, decided on 14-11-2018]

 

Case BriefsTribunals/Commissions/Regulatory Bodies

National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission: The National Commission, through a Bench comprising of Anup Kr Thakur, Presiding Member and C. Vishwanath, Member allowed the revision petition and set aside the order passed by the State Commission in the present case.

The present case was filed by the respondents in the District Commission against the petitioners for an award of compensation to the tune of Rs 50,000 for the physical, mental and financial pain which was inflicted and Rs 20,000 legal expenses which had been incurred. The respondents had given a laptop for repair to the petitioners, who after having given an assurance of the timely repair of the laptop, subsequently did not respond to the correspondences of the respondents, nor did they complete the repair. The District Commission gave the respondents Rs 15,000 in compensation and Rs 5,000 for legal expenses, to which a revision petition was filed to the State Commission. The State Commission dismissed the appeal due to non-appearance of the petitioners. In the present revision petition before the National Commission, the petitioners have argued that due to certain pressing reasons, such as the resolution passed by the Bar, calling for all lawyers to abstain from work, illness, and incorrect date being mentioned on the cause list by the reader, the petitioners were not able to appear before the State Commission.

The National Commission held that the non-appearance before the State Commission was not deliberate and, as there were sufficient reasons for the absence of the petitioners, it is in the interest of justice that he be heard, otherwise his position in law will be severely prejudiced. Accordingly, it was decreed by the National Commission that the order passed by the State Commission be set aside, and the State Commission was to hear both the parties in the appeal and decide on merits. [Multycare Solutions v. Malay Bhaumik, 2018 SCC OnLine NCDRC 404, order dated 03-10-2018]