New Delhi

In a move that could lead to blackouts in the capital, the Supreme Court on Tuesday allowed state-owned power producer NTPC Ltd to cut power supply to Reliance ADAG-owned distribution companies in the national capital if they fail to pay past dues. The court asked BSES Yamuna and BSES Rajdhani to pay Rs 690 crore to NTPC by May 31 for the power purchased since January this year.

The two BSES discoms supply power to over 70% of the city’s 3.2 million consumers while Tata Power Delhi Distribution Ltd (TPDDL) caters to the rest.

“We make it clear that if the above amount is not paid by May 31, the stay (on disconnection notice by the NTPC) will be vacated,” a bench comprising Justices S S Nijjar and A K Sikri said.

The apex court also clarified that recovery of past dues would be dealt separately.

Senior advocate Mukul Rohatgi, appearing for the ADAG companies, submitted that they do not have money to pay NTPC as the Delhi government had not paid it Rs 14,000 crore due in the past.

BSES said the state regulator had agreed to a roadmap for the payment of dues in a staggered manner over six years. BSES said it wanted the payment to be made in three years and not six.

NTPC’s counsel argued, “Why should NTPC be the victim?” NTPC will not be in a position to continue power supply if the dues were not cleared, he said.

The apex court had on March 26 extended the February 7 interim order to NTPC that there will be no disconnection in the supply of electricity in furtherance to its notices to BSES Rajdhani and BSES Yamuna on the issue of payment security mechanism and non-payment of outstanding dues to it.

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.

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