SC refuses relief to Reliance Comm arm in Rs 1,200-crore power bill row

In a setback to Reliance Infocomm Infrastructure, the Supreme Court on Thursday refused to waive the pre-condition imposed by the Bombay High Court…

In a setback to Reliance Infocomm Infrastructure, the Supreme Court on Thursday refused to waive the pre-condition imposed by the Bombay High Court asking the Anil Ambani group firm to pay 50% of the demand of R1,200 crore raised by the Maharashtra State Electricity Distribution Company Ltd (MSEDCL).

A bench headed by justice Ranjan Gogoi refused to grant any interim relief to the firm, an arm of Reliance Communications, which has challenged before the HC the demand, raised for alleged “unauthorised use of electricity” at its premises in the Millennium Business Park. The apex court had earlier in June remanded back to the HC its dispute asking the company to raise the issue with regard to pre-deposit of 50% of the demand (around R600 crore) as well as the option of paying the amount in instalments before the HC, which on May 22 had directed Reliance to deposit 50% of the bill within seven days for the case to be heard on merits. The company argued that the power tariff on its IT park in Maharashtra for the 2009-15 period should be calculated under industrial tariff rates and not commercial tariff rates.

Stating that the demand is “unsustainable,” Reliance had stated that the demand for unauthorised use of electricity had been raised illegally in contravention of the IT/ITES policy of the Maharashtra government and the policy nowhere specifies compulsory registration of individual IT units in the IT parks. It further stated that it used the electricity in accordance with the permitted usage for the IT units of its parent — Reliance Communication Ltd — and other sister concerns, thus the question of “unauthorised use” does not arise.

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