The Supreme Court today, while dealing with a Writ Petition concerning the appointment of the Chairperson for the Delhi Electricity Regulatory Commission (DERC), which has been headless amidst the clashes between the office of the Lieutenant Governor and the Government of N.C.T. of Delhi, appointed former Delhi High Court Judge, Justice Jayant Nath as the interim chairperson of the DERC.

The Bench of Chief Justice D.Y. Chandrachud, Justice J.B. Pardiwala, and Justice Manoj Misra, was at the outset informed by Senior Advocate Abhishek Manu Singhvi representing the Government of N.C.T. of Delhi, and Additional Solicitor General Sanjay Jain representing the office of the Lieutenant Governor, that they had agreed on the previous date of the hearing that the Court may appoint a person of its choice as the Chairperson for DERC due the failure to reach consensus between the Delhi Government and the Lieutenant Governor.

"What we will suggest is that the remuneration of the person we are nominating should be fixed by the Lieutenant Governor and left to their consideration," said the CJI, to which Singhvi urged the Court to fix the remuneration as well.

Singhvi submitted, "When your lordships say anything to be done by either the LG or CM, it creates an insignia of authority or legitimacy."

In response, the CJI humorously remarked, "I am hopelessly outdated on fees now, we all will start laughing, and the juniors will start laughing in the Court if I start fixing the fee." The CJI further suggested, "Then we will say Dr. Singhvi and Mr. Sanjay Jain will fix it. You talk to the learned Judge and by consent fix the honorarium and consultation fee of the judge."

Accordingly, the Court in its order noted, "Dr. Abhishek Manu Sinhgvi, learned Senior Counsel appearing on behalf of Government of N.C.T. of Delhi and Sanjay Jain, learned Senior Counsel appearing for the Lieutenant Governor have jointly requested this court to nominate a former Judge who shall, pending further order, discharge duties of the post of Chairperson of Delhi Electricity Regulatory Commission (DERC)."

The Court further ordered, "Accordingly, we request Dr. Justice Jayant Nath, former Judge of the High Court of Delhi to discharge the duties of the office of DERC. Since the learned Judge after demitting his office from the High Court of Delhi is also engaged in other work, including arbitration, having regard to the nature of the present assignment which shall be put to him, we have requested the Lieutenant Governor and the Chief Minister of Delhi in consultation with Justice Jayant Nath to notify the honorarium payable."

"As a Lawyer, before becoming a Judge in Delhi High Court, Justice Jayant Nath has enormous experience in electricity matters", said ASG Sanjay Jain. "Very appropriate choice by lordships", said Senior Advocate Singhvi to which the CJI, who in a lighter vein, responded, "I hope the Lieutenant Governor and the Chief Minister will agree to his name then".

Earlier, considering that the DERC was headless, the Court had said that the Lieutenant Governor and the Chief Minister must sit together and suggest an agreed name for a person who can head the Delhi Electricity Regulatory Commission (DERC). "They must rise above political bickering. They must sit together and give us an agreed name", the CJI said.

The Supreme Court had on July 4, 2023, deferred the oath-taking ceremony of DERC chairperson-designate Justice (retd) Umesh Kumar and sought responses from the Centre and the office of the Lieutenant Governor on a plea of the Delhi government challenging the law governing such an appointment.

Cause Title: Government of N.C.T. Of Delhi V. Union Of India And Ors. [W.P.(C) No. 669/2023]