Government extends tenure of Central Electricity Regulatory Commission chief, members till next year

New Delhi: The government has issued order for extension of the tenure of former Gujarat cadre bureaucrat Pradeep Kumar Pujari as chairperson of the Central Electricity Regulatory Commission (CERC) till mid-next year.

The tenure extension order is also likely to apply to the other two members – I S Jha, former Power Grid Corp chairman, and Arun Goyal, ex-bureaucrat — of the regulatory commission, giving them five years of service or till they attain 65 years, sources said. The tenure of the commission’s recently appointed member law Pravas Kumar Singh is already fixed as five years.

Pujari is the first chairman of the power regulator to get tenure extension even as the Electricity Act, 2003 forbids it.

As per the modified approval received from DOPT, “the Appointments Committee of the Cabinet has approved the proposal for appointment of P K Pujari as Chairperson, Central Electricity Regulatory Commission (CERC) for a term of 5 years w.e.f. the date of assumption of charge of the post, or until he attains the age of 65 years, or until further orders, whichever is the earliest, in terms of Section 89(1) of the Electricity Act, 2003,” an order issued by the power ministry on Saturday said.

The earlier appointment was made by the ministry on February 1, 2018 as per the pay and on the terms and conditions as are applicable to the Chairperson and Members under the “Tribunal, Appellate Tribunal and other Authorities (Qualification, Experience and other Conditions of Service of Members) Rules, 2017”.

The other terms and conditions of appointment shall be governed by the provisions of the Electricity Act, 2003, and the Central Electricity Regulatory Commission (Salary, allowances and other conditions of service of Chairperson and Members) Rules 2004, as amended from time to time, the order said.

“The dispensation would also apply to the tenures of Jha and Goel,” sources said.

Pujari, former power secretary, was appointed to head CERC for three years till January 31. Jha took over as member CERC in January 2019 and Goyal was appointed on April 7 this year.

Section 89 of the Electricity Act 2003, which deals with term of office and conditions of service of members of regulators, provides that the chairperson or other member in the Central Commission or the State Commission shall not be eligible for re-appointment in the same capacity as the chairperson or a member in that commission in which he had earlier held office.

The same Act provides that the chairperson or other members shall hold office for a term of five years or till they attain the age of 65 years.

A 1981 batch Gujarat cadre officer, Pujari retired as Union power secretary in 2017. Since assuming charge as head of CERC, Pujari issued tariff regulations for 2019-24, started market-based economic despatch—selling of power generation through spot market—allowed real time markets, and recognised emission control equipment cost as pass through among many other initiatives.

The Appointments Committee of the Cabinet had in December approved appointment of Singh, presently member (legal), Jharkhand SERC to the post of member (law) in CERC for a period of five years.

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