PESHAWAR: The Peshawar High Court on Thursday issued a stay order stopping the Peshawar Electric Supply Company (Pesco) from recovering dues from two industrial units on account of the quarterly tariff adjustment by the National Electric Power Regulatory Authority (Nepra).
A bench consisting of Justice Mohammad Ibrahim Khan and Justice Ishtiaq Ibrahim issued notices to the respondents, including Nepra, Pesco and federal power secretary, seeking their response to two petitions filed by the Taj Wood Board Mills Limited and Taj Re-Rolling and Steel Mills Limited against the quarterly tariff adjustment by the Nepra for power consumers.
The petitioners contended that payments on account of quarterly tariff adjustment (QTA) were unjustified, illegal and liable to be set aside.
They requested the court to declare the impugned demand of QTA without proper notification by the federal government illegal and without lawful authority.
Seeks response of Nepra, govt to petitions on matter
The petitioners also sought the court’s orders that independent auditors be hired to recheck the claims submitted by DISCOs (distribution companies) and assurance be made that the expense doesn’t include the one resulting from negligence and inefficiencies of Discos.
Isaac Ali Qazi and Mohammad Akbar Khan, lawyers for the petitioners, said their clients were charged for electricity consumption under industrial tariff as determined by the Nepra under the Regulation of Generation, Transmission and Distribution of Electric Power Act, 1997, popularly known as the Nepra Act.
They said the petitioners were billed on a monthly basis and once the bills were paid, it became a past and closed transaction between the petitioner and the respondents regarding the consumption of electricity for that particular month.
The lawyers said their clients were billed according to the said mechanism until June-July 2019 and not a single penny was outstanding against them until then.
They pointed out that through a decision on June 14, 2019, the Nepra determined QTA for the period of first and second quarters for the year 2018-19 and a notification was issued to that effect on June 28, 2019, to charge the petitioners with retrospective effect.
Lawyer Qazi said the petitioners and several other industrial units and challenged the said decision before the high court.
He said the high court set aside on Sept 3, 2020, the impugned notification and decision of the Nepra and referred the matter back to the authority.
The lawyer, however, said the Nepra upheld its previous decision on Oct 29, 2020, ignoring the written and oral submissions of the petitioners.
He said to date, electricity bills of the petitioners and other industrial units were corrected and the amount of QTA had been deleted but the Nepra, through a letter on June 11, had directed its subordinate officers to recover the impugned QTA.
The counsel said the Pesco had issued the entire amount as arrears in one go, which was without mandatory notification of the federal government.
He argued that the Nepra’s decision of Oct 29, 2020, and its letter of June 11, 2021, had adversely affected every industrial unit of the province and it would be beyond their capacity to make the payment of inflated bills.
The lawyer said if the government continued with the recovery of the impugned QTA, several of the industrial units would close down rendering a large number of people unemployed.
Published in Dawn, July 30th, 2021