CJ recuses from passing verdict on power tariff PIL

Cuttack: The question of maintainability of a PIL in Orissa High Court challenging the proposed power tariff hike by Orissa Electricity Regulatory Commission (OERC) would remain unanswered at least for a few more days as Chief Justice V Gopala Gowda on Wednesday recused himself from delivering any judgement on the subject.

A division bench of the Chief Justice and Justice B N Mohapatra had earlier heard the matter and reserved its verdict. But without assigning any reason, the Chief Justice on Wednesday said: "The matter will be placed before another bench for hearing on Thursday (tomorrow)".

This is perhaps for the first time in recent history of Orissa High Court that a Chief Justice recused himself from passing any judgement over a matter apprehending he may appear biased or prejudiced.

Sources said by doing so, the Chief Justice has shown high order of judicial propriety by recusing himself as he had attended a conference of one of the petitioners ? Federation of Consumers` Organisation.

It may be recalled here that OERC in March this year had proposed power tariff hike for 2011-12 fiscal for both domestic and commercial consumers which were slated to be effective from April 1.

Several petitions were filed in the HC challenging the OERC proposal following which the HC had imposed an interim stay on collection of hiked tariff.

Subsequently, OERC in an affidavit had stated that the High Court has no power to decide over the matter of tariff hike proposed by the commission.