Sc Dismisses Merc Plea On Ex-discom Staff As Ombudsman, Legal News, ET LegalWorld – Legal Firms

Nagpur: Supreme Court has dismissed Maharashtra Electricity Regulatory Commission (MERC) appeal challenging Nagpur bench of Bombay high court’s verdict of March 15 invalidating the appointment of a retired officer, who was earlier associated with the power regulatory bodies, as electricity ombudsman.

The bench comprising Chief Justice Uday Lalit and justices S Ravindra Bhat and JB Pardiwala, however, said, “It is clarified that any acts or orders passed by the appointee as electricity ombudsman, by de facto doctrine, shall stand saved. No order shall be considered to be illegal only on the ground that he did not have the requisite qualifications to hold the position.”

The MERC had issued an advertisement on December 21, 2018, for appointing an ombudsman. Applications were invited from retired HC judges, government secretaries or chief executive officers of electricity utilities.

One Amol Joshi, who retired as secretary in the state urban development department, had applied along with Deepak Lad and seven others. Thereafter, Lad was appointed as electricity ombudsman as per MERC (Consumer Grievances Redressal Forum and Electricity Ombudsman) Regulations, 2006 read with the provisions of Electricity Act, 2003, on March 22, 2019.

Through information sought under the RTI Act, Joshi came to know that of the nine applicants, three including himself and Lad were found ineligible. Joshi then moved high court challenging Lad’s appointment on the grounds that he lacked requisite qualifications.

According to the petitioner, Lad was a former member of MERC, and had served MSEDCL (and its predecessor MSEB before trifurcation) for more than 30 years in various capacities, eventually retiring as chief engineer and hence ineligible to be appointed as ombudsman.

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