Centre for Environmental Justice challenges Cabinet move on electricity hike in Court

Wednesday, 25 January 2023 00:28 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

Centre for Environmental Justice (CEJ) yesterday filed a lawsuit petition against the Cabinet approval granted on 21 November 2023 to revise the existing General Policy Guideline for the electricity industry issued by the then (2021) Power Minister.

The Petitioners noted that the Minister of Power and Energy presented a Cabinet memorandum seeking to amend the existing General Policy Guideline, implement tariff proposals according to the revised General Policy Guideline, and update and revisit the tariff biannually as per the revised General Policy Guideline. This Cabinet memorandum was presented on the basis that the revenue generated under the new tariff in 2022 is not adequate to meet the generation cost.

However, the Petitioners stated that the amended General Policy Guideline and the proposed electricity tariffs approved by the Cabinet following the provisions of the Sri Lanka Electricity Act No. 35 of 2002 and the Public Utilities Commission of Sri Lanka (PUCSL) have undermined the functions of the relevant regulatory authority; the PUCSL and hence ultra vires.

The Petitioners further stated that the Ceylon Electricity Board was obliged to comply with the necessary procedures set out by the PUCSL in granting the approval to ensure the reasonableness of cost and to safeguard the public interest.

Accordingly, the Petitioners requested the court to issue a notice of this application to the Respondents, issue a mandate in the nature of a Writ of Certiorari quashing the impugned Cabinet decision, quashing the amended General Policy Guideline, and quashing the Cabinet decision approving the proposed electricity tariffs.

The Petitioners also requested to grant an interim order staying the operation of the impugned cabinet decision, staying the PUCSL from deciding on permitting the Ceylon Electricity Board and its Chairman to implement the proposed tariff revision, issue an order compelling the above-mentioned to disclose the power procurements carried out from 2015 to 2022, issue a mandate in the nature of a Writ of Mandamus compelling the PUCSL with the Sri Lanka Electricity Act No. 20 of 2009, and other such reliefs. 

The Ceylon Electricity Board and its Chairman, the PUCSL and the Cabinet have been named as the Respondents. The Centre for Environmental Justice, Electricity and Renewable Energy Association, and others have been named as the Petitioners.