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Punjab violates Electricity Act 2003 passed by the Parliament
The Punjab Government has violated the Central Government Electricity Act 2003 by including the power/ electricity under Punjab Right to Service Act. Punjab State Electricity regulatory Commission (PSERC) in its letter dated May 6 to Punjab Government has asked it to amend the notification of September 2013 to exclude power / electricity from services notified by government to avoid legal complications.

Punjab Government had earlier issued Punjab Right to Service Act in May 2011 and amended in September 2013 to include electricity/ power in the ambit of services defined in act.

PSERC in its letter has mentioned that Electricity Act 2003 governs the electricity supply industry in India. Section 57 to 59 of this act relate to consumer protection and standards of performance. These sections of the Act lay down that appropriate commission may after consulting the stakeholders specify standard performance of a licensee. In case the licensee fails to meet the prescribed standard, he is liable to pay compensation to person affected.

PSERC, empowered under the Act, issued notification on December 2,2011 approving the procedure for payment of compensation in the event of failure to meet the performance standards. The copies of PSERC notification were laid before the state legislature in compliance to section 182 of Electricity Act 2003.

The new notification issued by Punjab Government is in conflict with the provisions of a central Act. PSERC has asked the government to amend the notification to exclude power/ electricity from the services notified under Punjab right to service act to avoid any legal complication at later stage.

Punjab State Power Corporation Limited (PSPCL) in its  letter of June 10 2014 has informed PSERCs that the company had written to Punjab Government that these services are already covered under PSERC regulations so there is no need to cover under right to services act 2011. Despite PSPCL's objection Punjab Government went ahead and issued amendment to Right to service act by including power/ electricity in its ambit. The matter was again taken up by PSPCL immediately after issuance of notifications on September 9, 2013.

After repeated reminders by Punjab right to service Commission, PSPCL was forced to adopt the instructions on April 23, 2014. PSPCL claims that in notifications by Punjab Government, the amount of compensation to be paid to consumer is many  times the compensation to be paid under the notification issued by PSERC.

A senior PSPCL official said that in case the Govt. of Punjab notification is challenged in the High Court, it will be held ultra virus as the notification issued by PSERC is under a central Act, while that by Govt. of Punjab has been issued under a State Act and in case of conflict, the notification under central Act shall prevail.

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