Govt creating problems by not filing vacancies in Aptel: Supreme Court
New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Wednesday pulled up the government for “creating problem” by not appointing members in the Appellate Tribunal for Electricity (Aptel) and sought to know by when these appointments would be made. The apex court’s observation came during the hearing of a plea relating to electricity tariff and was informed that presently only one bench of the Aptel was functional due to these vacancies.
“You are creating a problem for us by not appointing members at the designated posts in the tribunal. Now Aptel has only one bench,” a vacation bench of Justices A.M. Sapre and S.K. Kaul said. “Tribunals are created for expediting the adjudication. Tribunals are created but members are not there,” the bench told Additional Solicitor General (ASG) P S Narasimha.
“We have requested ASG P S Narasimha to find out as to when the government is intending to appoint members so that the bench of Aptel can function. Because we are told that the appeal filed in 2013 has not been heard for want of an appropriate bench,” the bench noted in its order.
Aptel, which has jurisdiction throughout the country, was set up to hear appeals or original petitions against orders of the adjudicating officer or the central regulatory commission or state regulatory commissions or joint commissions constituted under the Electricity Act.
As per the Aptel website, the tribunal currently consists of a chairperson and three technical members and “every bench constituted by the chairperson shall consist of at least one judicial member and one technical member”.
The counsel appearing for the petitioner informed the apex court that only one bench was functional at Aptel due to which an appeal filed in 2013 was still pending. The apex court asked Narasimha, who was present in the courtroom for some other matter, when the government intended to fill up the vacancies in Aptel.
“What about the appointment of members in Aptel? We cannot have appeal filed in 2013 pending till now. You have to make appointment of members,” the bench said. Narasimha said he would take instruction on the issue and inform the court.
The apex court fixed the matter for hearing after three weeks and asked the ASG to inform the bench about appointments in Aptel.