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Mumbai, 25th January, 2017: Reliance Anil Dhirubhai Ambani Group (R-ADAG) was caught with its hands in the proverbial cookie jar, and that too by the Supreme Court! R-ADAG tried to twist the terms of its Power Purchase Agreement with seven states, and make a profit of well over Rs 1,000/- crore by making the states count one day as one year (31st March 2013 is the previous financial year, and 1st April 2013 is the next financial year. Get it?) And moreover, when All Indian Power Engineers' Federation (AIPEF) blew the whistle and prevented it, R-ADAG tried to sue AIPEF's office-bearers for damages of Rs 1,000 crore! Ulta chor kitwal ko dante!

The true significance of Supreme Court’s 8th December 2016 judgment on Reliance's Sasan Ultra Mega Power Project (UMPP) Commercial Operation Date (COD) has gone unreported. Mainstream media has avoided reporting important thing, namely:

1) By exploiting a loophole in the Power Purchase Agreements (PPA) signed with seven states of India, Reliance Power wanted to hugely overcharge them. Madhya Pradesh, where the power project is located, would have had to pay over Rs 400 crore extra to Sasan Power Ltd. based on their false claim that Unit 3 of the UMPP started commercial operations on March 31, 2013. (Counting interest costs, the impact on MP would be around Rs 450 crore.) The PPA specifies that power is to be supplied @70 paise per unit for the first two years, and hiked up to Rs 1.31 per unit from the third year. But, if Reliance Power’s claim of March 31, 2013 as the commercial operations date (COD) were to be accepted by the seven power-purchasing states, then the first year of power purchase would be only one day long, i.e. starting on 31st March, 2013 and ending on April 1, 2013. Such a stand would enable Sasan to start charging the higher power tariff of Rs 1.31 per unit from April 1, 2014, instead of April 1, 2015. This would have resulted in a wrongful gain of Rs 1050 crore to Sasan Power Ltd, coming out of the pocket of the Indian power consumer and taxpayer.

2) Moreover, were such a claim to be accepted, it would have also resulted in incalculable loss to the nation in terms of power-generation, as it would have removed all the deadlines and left Sasan Power Ltd. under no pressure to fully operationalize Unit 3 in a time-bound manner. On 31st March 2013, Unit 3 was functioning at a mere 17% of demand. The unit became fully operational and achieved the capacity to fulfill 95% demand only in August 2013. If 31st March were considered the start of the COD by waiving this condition, it is possible and even likely that the date on which 95% demand capacity was achieved would have been pushed back even further. The heart of the PPA is the condition that Unit 3 had to be functioning at over 95% of demand, for the Commercial Operation Date to commence. By seeking to subvert the heart of the contract, R-ADAG betrayed its profiteering tendencies, and its willingness to sacrifice the safety and well-being of the national grid.

3) Sasan Power would have got away with looting India, were it not for the persistent efforts of All Indian Power Engineers Federation (AIPEF), spearheaded by its chief patron Er. Padamjit Singh of Delhi and Er. Shailendra Dubey of Lucknow.  It is heartening to see the activist spirit with which this professional body defended the national interest before the Central Electricity Regulatory Commission and its Appellate Tribunal, and before the higher judiciary.

4) Sasan Power Limited tried to misuse Bombay High Court as a forum to intimidate AIPEF to prevent it from pursuing the matter before appropriate forums, including higher judiciary. It malafidely tried to get an injunction from Bombay High Court in August 2016 for muzzling and stalling AIPEF, and claiming damages of Rs 1,000/- crore, although the same matter was already reaching Supreme Court in Appeal.

5) There is significance in the fact that prominent Congress leaders Kapil Sibal and P Chidambaram, in their capacity as senior advocates, attempted to defend the indefensible. This helps to remind the public that Anil Ambani has friends on both sides of the political fence. No matter who wins elections – BJP or Congress – big money wins every time. The Congress camp may shout from rooftops that Prime Minister Narendra Modi is protecting the business interests of the “two brothers”, but one must bear in mind that Congress leaders also have their interests at heart.

Krishnaraj Rao

Posted in Public Interest by
Sulaiman Bhimani

The following is Bhagvanji Raiyani's first person account of the concluding day of his 16 year old Public Interest Litigation.

27th September, 2013.

Bombay High Court


It was Friday 3-30 P.M. 27th Sept. 2013.

Bench : Justice Dhananjay Chandrachud and Justice M.S.Sonak.

I was waiting for my matter to reach for hearing and a big thud was heard from the chair just behind me. The full court room rose on its feet and looked behind. Judges got up and came down.

What happended?

A man collapsed with his chair upside down. Judges left for a while to their chambers. People around turned to help. Doctor was summoned from High Court clinic. Registrar General was standing tense. Patient was in coma. It took 20 minutes for the doctor to bring him back to the senses. Judges came to soothe him. He was crying with folded hands before the judges in prayer posture who couldn't assure him when his matter would be heard. They appeared helpless. Judges went out for few minutes and resumed work again. Meanwhile I asked the unfortunate litigant: 'Since How many years are you fighting you case?' 'six years' replied the man still crying while being taken out.

Immediately thereafter my PIL No. 902 of 1998 reached and I started argument. I was interrupted by the bench stating that my PIL on the irregularities and corruption in junior college admissions was based on 1997 GR (Government Resolution) and subsequently several judgements of the Supreme Court were pronounced on the subject, hence my PIL couldn't be entertained.

I was appearing in person and said that I could argue the matter in lieu of those judgements and justify every contents and prayers in the petition and prepared to take the utmost risk even at the cost of its dismissal. I said I was not at fault in delay of 16 long years! But the judges prevailed on their stand and 'allowed' me to file another PIL! I argued in vain that it involved lot of reworking and receiving info. through RTI and waiting for days and days for the information to be received. Judges said, they couldn't help. I further submitted that during last 16 years I would have urged hundred times to all Chief Justices to hear this PIL but in vain.

My heart cried from within for not geting justice to the poor and merited students but judiciary as usual stood insensitive.

If this is the fate of the Public Interest Litigations what about private and government litigations pending since 20-30 years in almost all courts across the country?


(Bhagvanji Raiyani)

Chairman & Managing Trustee

Forum For Fast Justice

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