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HC shoots down AAP govt's power bill waiver

February 19, 2014 13:02 IST

The Delhi High Court on Wednesday directed the city government not to implement the 50 per cent subsidy announced by it to people who did not pay their power bills from October 2012 to December 2013. 

"Don't take any further steps on it," a bench of justices B D Ahmed and Siddharth Mridul said in an oral order and listed the matter on February 21 for further hearing.

The court, meanwhile, directed the standing counsel for the Delhi government to seek instructions and file an affidavit indicating the actual position regarding the proposal of then AAP government.

The court passed the order as there was "no clarity" on whether the Delhi cabinet had taken a decision to implement the subsidy as claimed by the petitioner Vivek Sharma.

It was hearing a PIL challenging the subsidy given by former Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) government to people who did not pay their power bills from October 2012 to December 2013.

The bench, after going through the government file, observed that a note by ex-CM Arvind Kejriwal had said the subsidy proposal needed to be placed before the cabinet.

However, the court also noted that while it appears that no decision had been taken, "there is no clarity on that".

"Get proper instructions and file an affidavit, if necessary, indicating the position," the bench told the Delhi government standing counsel.

During the proceedings, Sharma contended that the proposal appears to have been implemented as according to the media reports, AAP leader Manish Sisodia had openly said so.

Sharma also said that as per media reports, the Lt Governor has directed all government departments to implement the major orders of the former AAP government.

"That is not the point. (As per the file) absolutely no decision has been taken. There is no cabinet decision on paper," the bench told the petitioner.

The PIL has been filed against former Delhi government's announcement of 50 per cent waiver on electricity bills of people who defaulted in payment, saying it will "spread chaos and anarchy by rewarding defaulters instead of penalising them."

The petition has challenged the former AAP government's move to withdraw cases of power theft lodged against those who did not pay their dues.

The PIL, which has also made Kejriwal and his ex-cabinet colleague Sisodia parties to the case, claimed it is on their advice that over 24,000 consumers stopped paying their power bills.

"... These people have not paid their bills from October 2012 to December 2013," it said.

The petition has also alleged that the Delhi government's decision discriminates against those who paid their bills on time.

"The action of the state will benefit only those who participated in the illegal acts and did not pay the electricity bill dues, which is clearly a violation of law and discriminatory against the rest of the citizens of Delhi," the PIL has contended. 

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