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regular-article-logo Wednesday, 17 April 2024

Rage at Adani ‘deletion’ in Supreme Court: Case on ‘top’ of list after Dushyant Dave protest

Rajasthan government’s Jaipur Vidyut Vitran Nigam Ltd had earlier taken exception to the miscellaneous application moved by the Adani group company in January last year for a direction to Jaipur Vidyut to pay a late-payment surcharge (LPS) of Rs 1,376.35 crore to the private firm

R. Balaji New Delhi Published 24.01.24, 05:28 AM
Dushyant Dave

Dushyant Dave File picture.

The Supreme Court will take up on Wednesday an application moved by Adani Power Rajasthan Limited over a Rs 1,376-crore dispute, after senior advocate Dushyant Dave, appearing for a state government undertaking, objected to the alleged abrupt deletion of the matter from Tuesday’s list.

The Rajasthan government’s Jaipur Vidyut Vitran Nigam Ltd had earlier taken exception to the miscellaneous application moved by the Adani group company in January last year for a direction to Jaipur Vidyut to pay a late-payment surcharge (LPS) of Rs 1,376.35 crore to the private firm. The state had objected to the application since the apex court had already dismissed the Adanis’ plea on the issue in August 2020.

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The government undertaking had in January last year objected to the application on the ground that it was illegal and “raises an extraordinarily serious question going to the very root of the institutional integrity of the Registry of the Hon’ble Supreme Court of India”. In a letter signed by Kartik Seth, counsel for Jaipur Vidyut Vitran Nigam Ltd, the Adani application was improper as a three-judge bench of the Supreme Court had in a judgment dated August 31, 2020, rejected the surcharge demand.

The Adanis’ miscellaneous application had been listed for hearing on Tuesday, but was abruptly deleted according to Dave, who wanted to question the maintainability of the plea.

Dave told the bench of Justices Aniruddha Bose and P.V. Sanjay Kumar that in terms of an earlier judicial order, the matter was to be listed for hearing on Tuesday, but had been deleted suddenly.

The senior counsel said that when his instructing advocate Kartik Seth’s law firm enquired with the Supreme Court registry, an assistant registrar informed them on Tuesday that the matter had been deleted as he had instructions not to list the case.

“When we enquired, the assistant registrar very boldly says, ‘I am under instructions not to list it,’” Dave told the court. He did not name the official.

Dave said when a judicial order had been passed by the court, the registry cannot delete it at the administrative level.

“It is very disturbing. It is contempt if the government does it. But when the registry defies court orders, it should be viewed seriously,” the senior counsel said. Dave pointed out that in another case (not related to the Adanis), a bench headed by Justice A.S. Oka had pulled up the registry for deleting the matter from the hearing list despite a judicial order for listing it on a particular day.

After Dave made the claim, Justice Bose, heading the bench, summoned the assistant registrar concerned and held an in-chamber discussion. Returning to the court, Justice Bose informed Dave that the Adani matter would be listed on “top of the board” as the first item to be heard on Wednesday.

Another PIL petitioner’s advocate also complained on Tuesday to the same bench that his matter, too, had not been listed despite a judicial order. The counsel submitted that the PIL, whose contents were not disclosed, related to an issue that concerned the lives of 20 people. The advocate said the matter had been earlier directed to be listed after two weeks, but had not been done even after eight weeks.

“Why is this happening despite listing date? We will hear it next Wednesday,” Justice Bose said.

On January 5 last year, the Chambers of Kartik Seth on behalf of Jaipur Vidyut Vitran Nigam Ltd had shot off a letter to the Supreme Court secretary-general, saying the registry’s decision to clear the miscellaneous application filed by the Adani firm “raises an extraordinarily serious question going to the very root of the institutional integrity of the Registry of the Hon’ble Supreme Court of India”.

The application moved by the Adanis on July 19, 2022, had sought a direction to the Rajasthan government undertaking to make a payment of Rs 1,376.35 crore towards late-payment surcharge.

The Rajasthan government had then pointed out that a three-judge bench of the Supreme Court had on August 31, 2020, expressly held that Adani Power Rajasthan Limited was not entitled to the payment of surcharge in terms of Article 8.3.5 of the Power Purchase Agreement dated January 28, 2010, signed between the two parties.

“In terms of the judgment, we have paid the entire amount payable and the same has been accepted by APRL without any protest. Therefore, the present MA (miscellaneous application) is a clear attempt to review the aforesaid judgment after a lapse of more than 2 years and that too without moving any application for condonation of delay…,” the Rajasthan government’s letter through its legal counsel stated.

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