The Supreme Court Tuesday asked BSES Yamuna and BSES Rajdhani, among the three private power distribution firms in the capital, to pay their current dues to NTPC by May 31 and said supplies from the state-run generator will continue till then.
The apex court bench of Justice Surinder Singh Nijjar and Justice A.K. Sikri said the two firms were being asked to clear their current dues with effect from Jan 1 this year based on the revised tariff for power purchase over which there was no dispute.
The court also said that if the dues are not cleared by May 31 their order restraining NTPC from discontinuing or regulating their supplies will be lifted.
Initially the court gave 14 days' time to pay the dues. But when senior counsel Mukul Rohtagi, who appeared for BSES Yamuna and BSES Rajdhani, said they have moved an appeal seeking an extension till July, the court fixed May 31 as the date.
Also appearing for BSES Yamuna and BSES Rajdhani, senior counsel U.U. Lalit told the court that unless his clients were paid the past outstanding dues by the government of Delhi it would be impossible to meet the current liabilities.
"As a result of the denial of outstanding dues of Rs. 14,000 crores, I am placed in a precarious position," Lalit said, adding there was no dispute at all on one issue -- that one of the outstanding amounts due to one of the two firms was Rs.5,206 crore.
But the court sought to make a distinction between what was due for the past few months and what was historical. "Outstanding dues is one thing. There can be a roadmap. What we are talking about is current dues," Justice Sikri observed.
"Admittedly, Rs.20,000 crore is due. Everyone is saying draw the curtains on Rs.20,000 crore. Obviously, I am struggling and I can't be afloat," said Rohtagi.
"A road map has been given for the recovery of shortfall in tariff of the past. The road map is spread over six years -- 2014-15 to 2019-20. We want just one change in that -- a roadmap of three years," he said.
"Some balancing has to be done. If I drown in interim. I will drown," he said, adding, while the government was not paying such large outstanding dues to his clients, they were being asked to clear their current dues to the state-run NTPC.
During the course of arguments, BSES Yamuna and BSES Rajdhani have already told the court that while the cost of power to them as supplied by state-run utilities had risen by over 300 percent in the past 10 years, their tariff for customers had been enhanced just by around 70 percent.