High Court directs Delhi's discoms to cooperate in CAG audit

The Delhi High Court on Monday directed Tata Power Delhi Distribution Limited (TPDDL), BSES Rajdhani Power and BSES Yamuna Power, the three power distribution companies that supply power to in Delhi, to comply with its earlier order and cooperate with the Comptroller and Auditor General's auditing of their accounts.

The direction comes on a petition filed by the three power distribution companies in the capital against the 24 January order of a single judge bench of Justice Manmohan, which refused to stay a Delhi government order asking the power distribution companies to get their accounts audited by the CAG.

A division bench consisting Justices BD Ahmed and Siddharth Mridul passed the order on appeals by the three discoms against the earlier single judge order.

The audit of Delhi's power firms was ordered by Arvind Kejriwal's short-lived Aam Aadmi Party government in Delhi, which had accused the private power distribution companies of manipulating their accounts and exploiting consumers.

A voluntary organisation has also filed a public interest litigation seeking a CAG audit of their accounts.

The court, however, directed the CAG not to submit the report on these companies to the Delhi government (which is under president's rule now) without its permission.

The division bench will now further hear the appeals of the discoms along with public interest litigation filed by a non-government organisation on 1 May.

CAG has said that despite pressing in 25 officials to carry out a proper audit, the discoms tried to delay the process by withholding access to key documents and servers.

The CAG told the Delhi High Court that it had filed a complaint with the Delhi power secretary last week that despite sending 103 queries relating to 285 issues to the discoms, it had received only 26 answers. "Nearly seven weeks are over since the commencement of audit but progress has been tardy due to the non-cooperative attitude of the discoms. Of the 103 requisitions, complete information has been received only in respect of 26 requisitions. In respect of others, information either not furnished or furnished partly."

The discoms are keeping information relating to capital expenditure, assets utilisation, accounts, IT system, metering, billing and collection from consumers, tariff and regulatory matters, procurement and sale of power, according to the CAG. It has demanded that these discoms provide all records and documents rather than indulging in delaying tactics or furnishing incomplete documents.

Also, according to the CAG, its officers have been denied complete access to the IT system.

BSES, it said, has given authorisation to 15 out of 48 transactions codes for access by CAG officials while Tata Power has not given any access to their IT system.

"Partial disclosure may lead to erroneous conclusion," the auditor pointed out.