PIL in Delhi HC seeks probe into ‘artificial over-invoicing’ of imports by power firms
New Delhi: The Delhi high court on Wednesday directed the Centre to file its reply and affidavits in a public interest litigation seeking a court-monitored criminal investigation by a Special Investigative Team into the alleged malpractice of ‘artificial over-invoicing’ of imports allegedly being carried out by various power generating companies in India.
The case has been filed by the Centre for Public Interest Litigation (CPIL). Counsel for the CPIL, Prashant Bhushan argued that scope of the petition was beyond the matters of customs and taxes, which essentially came under the domain of Directorate of Revenue Intelligence (DRI).
“We are seeking a court monitored criminal investigation. We are seeking something larger than the scope of power of the DRI,” Bhushan told the bench comprising justices S. Ravindra Bhat and A.K. Chawla.
Bhushan informed the court that in March 2016, 40 power companies were identified by the DRI, that over-priced coal imported from Indonesia. These companies included NTPC, Adani Group and Essar Group. He also brought to the notice of the court two instances when DRI issued show causes to the Adani Group in 2014 and Essar Group in 2015 for over-pricing their imports.
The case of the petitioner is that the coal and equipment required for power generation in India are bought from Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs) through a foreign intermediary company which is a wholly controlled/ owned subsidiary of Indian power companies. While the invoices generated by OEMs reflect actual price of the product, the invoices generated by the intermediary companies on the Indian power companies are inflated ‘almost to the extent of 400%’, the petition alleges. Subsequently, the illegally inflated cost borne by the Indian power companies is passed on to the consumers who pay higher tariffs on electricity consumption.
The matter will be heard next on 4 April.