Delhi High Court asks LG not to act on power bills issue

New Delhi, Feb 19: The Delhi High Court Wednesday asked Lt. Governor Najeeb Jung not to take any further decision on the AAP government’s announcement to give 50 percent waiver on pending electricity bills of 24,036 consumers.

These consumers had stopped payment of their dues during their Aam Aadmi Party’s “bijli satyagraha”.

A division bench of Acting Chief Justice B.D. Ahmed and Justice Sidharth Mridul directed the Delhi government to clarify whether the cabinet has taken any decision on waiver of pending electricity bills.

“You (the government) file a short affidavit. We thought there was no meeting of the cabinet in this regard. But there is no clarity on this. Get proper instruction whether cabinet decision has been taken or not,” the court said, posting the matter for Feb 21.

Meanwhile, it also asked the Lt. Governor not to take further decision on waiver of power bills.

The bench was hearing a the public interest litigation (PIL) filed by advocate Vivek Narayan Sharma, who also sought quashing the Delhi government’s decision to close power theft cases registered against 2,508 consumers last year.

The plea said that such action of the government was like “sponsoring and abetting criminal/terrorism acts and acts against rule of law and constitution”.

Shortly after its formation, the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) launched ‘bijli satyagraha’ alleging that power bills in Delhi are inflated and as part of the campaign, Kejriwal urged people of Delhi to stop paying their power bills, the plea said.

About 24,036 consumers in Delhi stopped paying their power bills in Delhi, reportedly from October 2012 to December 2013.

During this period, the authorities disconnected a total of 2,508 electricity meters for non-payment of bills and these people started to steal power. The PIL said numerous theft cases were initiated and are pending in the courts.

On Feb 12, the AAP government, two days before resignation, announced it would provide 50 percent waiver on pending bills of 24,036 people, and also decided to waive off the penalties for default.

The plea claimed that the AAP and its leaders were enticing the public to follow no rule, and the estimated loss to public exchequer because of the move was around Rs.6 crore.