The Delhi Finance Department, through its Counter Affidavit, has informed the Supreme Court that the Delhi Jal Board (DJB) has received more than Rs. 28,400 crores since 2015-16. It also stated that there is no accountability, and the funds are not been used as per sanction conditions.

"Despite receiving more than Rs.28,400 crores of rupees from public exchequer (i.e. GNCTD) since 2015-16, there is no accountability, and the funds are not been used as per sanction conditions, as indicated by the CAG in its report," it stated.

The Finance Department has filed its response in a Writ Petition filed by the Government of National Capital Territory of Delhi (GNCTD) seeking the release of the funds approved by the Delhi Assembly for the DJB.

The matter is under consideration before the Bench headed by Chief Justice D.Y. Chandrachud, also comprising Justice J.B. Pardiwala and Justice Manoj Misra. The Court is scheduled to hear the matter on April 10.

The Finance Department stated that no balance sheet is available with DJB for the year 2021-22 onwards. "Failure to prepare the balance sheets for the year 2021-22 shows that the financials in the DJB are not appropriately maintained even after passage of almost 2 years. This not only affects financial management but also indicates that something is wrong in the financial system. Due to non preparation of balance sheets, the audit of the DJB could not be undertaken by the CAG for years," the Affidavit read.

The Department stated that the water tariffs (and thus sewer tariffs as they are calculated as 60% of the water tariffs) have not been increased since February 1, 2018 (which used to be revised every year by way of enhancement @ 10% per annum), and services charges have not been increased since January 1, 2015, thus affecting the financial health of the DJB.

"DJB is losing out on a potential revenue to the tune of about Rs.1,200 crores per annum due to non- enhancement of tariff against domestic bills alone. While the number of consumers with dues was about 11 lakhs in July, 2023, the same had risen to over 14 lakhs in January, 2024, implying that consumers were willfully not depositing their dues in anticipation of yet another scheme as was being announced," it stated.

The Department referred to a report dated March 15, 2024 of the Chief Secretary in the matter of "serious problems related to water supplv and maintenance of sewage lines being faced by residents of Delhi". "At one end the loans and interests thereon upon DJB has surpassed the figure of Rs.73,000 crore and Delhi Jal Board has repeated informed the GNCTD that it is not in a position to repay its debt to the GNCTD, and at the same time DJB is not following the statutory provisions to bring in financial probity," it submitted.

The Affidavit read, "Record reveals that the funds earmarked (or one scheme has been found diverted to meet out the excess expenditure incurred in other schemes and this diversion will certainly le(t an impact on those heads/schemes (rom where the funds are transferred. Excess expenditure incurred than the allocated budget (.diversion of funds) from one scheme to other scheme observed in Sewerage Sector and Water Sector for Rs.910.97 Cr and Rs.308.03 Cr respectively."

It also stated that the DJB has incurred expenditure in some ofthe schemes wherein no funds were sanctioned by the funds sanctioning authority and this practice starts in a particular year in a scheme and has been followed continuously in the ensuing years. "There is a difference of Rs. 1183.86 Cr on account of Loan between the PAO's and DJB Figures during the period 2003-04 and 2005-06 (or which DJB not submitted any details/reasons. Audited financial statements (or the period 2018- 19 to 2022-23 not produced to audit due to non- preparation/finalization of accounts in the scheduled period," the Affidavit read.

On the last hearing, the Bench had issued notice to the DJB. "On the request of Dr. Abhishek Manu Singhvi, we direct the engagement of the Delhi Jal Board as a party to these proceedings. Notice shall be issued to the Delhi Jal Board, returnable on next Wednesday (April 10)," the Court had ordered.

Pertinently, on April 1, the Court had issued notice to Delhi’s Principal Secretary (Finance) in the AAP government's Writ Petition. The GNCTD had told the Court that a total of Rs 4578.15 crores had been received by the Delhi Jal Board for the financial year 2023–24, inclusive of an amount of Rs 760 crores, which was received on March 31, 2024. However, an amount of Rs 1927 crore was not paid over. To this, the LG had submitted that it has nothing to do with the non-release of the balance amount of Rs 1927 crores, which has been approved by the Legislative Assembly of the NCT of Delhi.

Cause Title: Government of National Capital Territory of Delhi v. Office of Lieutenant Governor of NCT of Delhi and Ors. [W.P. (C) No. 197/2024]