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The Delhi Government has informed the Delhi High Court that the Delhi Electricity Regulatory Commission (DERC) and other stakeholders have to be consulted before any concessions on recovery of electricity charges are extended to Micro Small Manufacturing Industries/ Establishments (MSME). (Apex Chamber of Commerce & Industry of Delhi vs NDMA & Ors)
The order was passed by a single Judge Bench of Justice Asha Menon.
Apex Chamber of Commerce & Industry of Delhi, which is an association of Micro Small Manufacturing Industries/ Establishments in the city, had moved the High Court against the Central and Delhi Government orders mandating compulsory payment of wages, without deduction, to their employees during the lockdown.
These establishments are part of the Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSME), registered under the Companies Act.
The Petitioner contended that there was an obligation on the Government to take care of everybody, without distinction and therefore, placing undue onus on the MSMEs to pay wages to the workers was unfair and inequitable.
It was submitted that while several policies had been rolled out to give various concessions to the labours, the MSMEs were not extended any relief.
Apart from seeking a direction to quash the orders on compulsory payment of wages, the Petitioner also brought the Court’s attention to the imposition of fixed electricity charges by the Delhi Government.
The Petitioner informed that besides paying for the actual consumption of electricity, the petitioners also bore certain fixed liabilities.
In view of the fact that the Governments of Haryana and Gujarat had exempted MSMEs from paying these fixed charges and surcharges, a representation was made to the Delhi Government for the same.
Representations were also made to the Central Government for relief qua payment of GST, Income Tax etc.
The Petitioner asserted that since these representations were not being considered by the respective Governments, directions be issued to them to dispose of these representations in a time bound manner.
When the matter came up before the Court on May 12, the Central Government informed the Court that a petition concerning the compulsory payment of wages, titled Ficus Pax Private Limited versus Union of India & Others, was already pending before the Supreme Court.
On the subsequent date of hearing i.e. May 21, the Central Government said that earlier orders dated March 29 and April 4 on payment of wages had “ceased to be in effect”.
Since a new order had been issued on May 17, the Respondent Governments submitted that the prayers qua quashing of compulsory payment of wages were now infructuous.
As far as consideration of Petitioner’s concern with respect to the levy of fixed electricity charges were concerned, the Delhi Government submitted that the Delhi Electricity Regulatory Commission and other stakeholders such as DISCOMS had to be consulted before any decision could be taken on any concessions on recovery of electricity charges.
In view of the above, the Court granted an opportunity to the Central Government and Delhi Government to file a report with respect to the status of the Petitioner’s pending representation.
It further requested that the counsel for Delhi Government to ensure that consultation process with regard to the issue of electricity charges is completed by the next date of hearing.
The matter would be heard next on June 2.
The Petitioner was represented by Advocates Sanjeev Kumar Dubey, Raj Mangal.
Centre was represented by ASG Maninder Acharya with Standing Counsel Anurag Ahluwalia with Advocates Abhigyan Siddhant, Naman Jain.
Additional Standing Counsel Sanjoy Ghose appeared for Delhi Government.
Read the Orders: