The city government Tuesday informed the Delhi High Court that it has not made any provision in the budget for funds to finance the subsidy on electricity for people in the capital as promised by the erstwhile AAP regime.
Taking into note the submissions of the Delhi government, a division bench of Acting Chief Justice B.D. Ahmed and Justice Siddharth Mridul also continued its stay on the Aam Aadmi Party government’s decision to give 50 percent waiver on pending electricity bills of 24,036 consumers.
The Arvind Kejriwal government had taken a decision on waiver of pending power bills of those consumers who had stopped payment of their dues during AAP’s “bijli satyagraha”.
The bench posted the matter for May 22 for final hearing.
Filing an affidavit for the Delhi government, Madhu Sudan, deputy secretary of power, said: “The competent authority of the government has not made any provision in the budget for release of funds for the purpose.”
“And in the absence of the availability of funds, therefore, in the present circumstances, it is not possible to implement the decision of the cabinet for providing relief to the electricity consumers who stopped paying their bills anytime between October 2012 and May 2013 till December 2013.”
The bench was hearing a 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 an 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 AAP had launched a “bijli satyagraha” alleging that power bills in Delhi were inflated.
As part of the campaign, Kejriwal urged people of Delhi to stop paying their bills, the plea said.
A total of 24,036 consumers in Delhi stopped paying their power bills reportedly between October 2012 and December 2013.
During this period, the authorities disconnected 2,508 electricity meters for non-payment of bills, following which many people allegedly started stealing power. Numerous theft cases are pending in courts.
On Feb 12, the AAP government, two days before it resigned, had announced it would provide 50 percent waiver on the pending bills of the 24,036 people, and also decided to waive the penalties for default.
The plea said the AAP was enticing the public to follow no rules, and the estimated loss to public exchequer because of the move was around Rs.6 crore.