HC refuses to interfere in CERC chairman selection process

Written by Indu Bhan | Indu Bhan | Noor Mohammad | Noor Mohammad | New Delhi | Updated: Jun 15 2013, 08:16am hrs
The Centre is all set to appoint the Central Electricity Regulatory Commission (CERC) chairman next week as the Delhi High Court has refused to interfere with the selection process initiated last November for the high-profile job.

The candidates in the fray include Girish Pradhan, former secretary in the ministry of new and renewable energy and power secretary P Umashankar.

The government had on November 6 last year invited applications for the post of CERC chairman, which fell vacant on June 9.

A division bench of the HC, while issuing notice to the ministry of power, and Planning Commission member (energy) BK Chaturvedi, who is also the chairman of the search-cum-selection committee, refused to stay the selection process. It appears the petitioner is aggrieved by the constitution of the selection committee, among others. We make it clear that the pendency of the LPA (appeal) shall not stand in the way of the respondents processing the applications already submitted by various individuals, the HC said.

Earlier, the apex court had refused to interfere with the selection process but gave liberty to one Anil Soni, a practising advocate, to move the HC.

Challenging the constitution of the selection committee, Soni in its PIL alleged that the two members of the selection panel the power secretary and the law secretary have also applied for the post, which is contrary to the law.

Even as per the government circular, the candidate is required to give a declaration that he/she does not have any financial or other interest, which is likely to affect prejudicially his/her function as chairperson CERC.

Besides, the PIL said that since the selection process is part of the sovereign function, it required only persons within the government to be members of the panel. Thus the association of Tata Energy and Research Institute chairman RK Pachauri as member of the selection committee is not in consonance with the constitutional scheme as he represents a private institution.

The Tata group (engaged in the production and sale of power) has a vested interest in power generation and thus association of Pachauri for performing sovereign functions is against all cannons of jurisprudence which deals with the execution of government work, the petition said.

Soni also pointed out that the central government had given a complete go-by to the provisions of the Section 77(2) of the Act, which requires that the chairperson should be a judge of the Supreme Court or the Chief Justice of a high court. He further added that the Act makes it incumbent that the chairperson and members of CERC should be persons having adequate knowledge of, or experience in, or shown capacity in, dealing with, problems relating to engineering, law, economics, commerce, finance or management.

However, in this case this vital provision has been ignored to favour a certain person who does not have knowledge of engineering and finance, he said.