Decided on February 17,2020

Adani Gas Limited Appellant
Petroleum and Natural Gas Regulatory Board Respondents


DHANANJAYA Y.CHANDRACHUD,J. - (1.)In 2018 the Petroleum and Natural Gas Regulatory Board, the Board conducted the ninth round of bidding for City or Local Natural Gas Distribution Networks, CGD Networks. On 14 September 2018, a press release was placed on the Board's website notifying details of the successful bidders in various Geographical Areas GAs". The contest in the present batch of appeals has arisen over the grant of authorisation for laying, building, operating or expanding CGD networks in the following GAs:
(i) GA 51 - Puducherry District;

(ii) GA 61 - Kanchipuram District; and

(iii) GA 62 ­ Chennai and Tiruvallur Districts.

(2.)The Appellate Tribunal for Electricity APTEL or Tribunal was seized of two appeals ­ Appeal No 292 of 2018, instituted by Adani Gas Limited and Appeal No 323 of 2018, instituted by IMC Limited. These appeals were instituted before the APTEL under Section 30(1) of the Petroleum and Natural Gas Regulatory Board Act 2006 (PNGRB Act). By their separate judgments dated 28 February 2019, the Chairperson and Member Technical (Petroleum and Natural Gas) rendered divergent findings, following which the Chairperson directed that the proceedings in the two appeals be placed before the judicial member. The judicial member recused from hearing the appeals on 7 March 2019. This led to the institution of the present appeals before this Court. Noting that no other judicial member was available in the APTEL to conduct the hearing, this Court by its order dated 1 April 2019 admitted the appeals and issued directions in exercise of its powers under Article 142 of the Constitution for the transfer of the proceedings before the APTEL to this Court in order to bring finality to the present dispute. In assessing the merits, the Court has had the benefit of appraising the differing views which have been expressed by the Chairperson and by the Member Technical (Petroleum and Natural Gas).
(3.)The APTEL has been constituted in terms of sub-Section (1) of Section 30 of the PNGRB Act which is extracted below:
30. Appellate Tribunal. (1) Subject to the provisions of this Act, the Appellate Tribunal established under section 110 of the Electricity Act, 2003 (36 of 2003) shall be the Appellate Tribunal for the purposes of this Act and the said Appellate Tribunal shall exercise the jurisdiction, powers and authority conferred on it by or under this Act:

Provided that the Technical Member of the Appellate Tribunal for the purposes of this Act shall be called the Technical Member (Petroleum and Natural Gas) and shall have the qualifications specified in sub-section (2) of section 31. Section 33 stipulates that any person aggrieved by an order or decision of the Board has recourse to an appeal to the Tribunal. The jurisdiction of the APTEL while hearing an appeal is spelt out in sub-Section (6) of Section 33 in the following terms:

33.(6) The Appellate Tribunal may, for the purpose of examining the legality or propriety or correctness of any order or decision of the Board referred to in the appeal filed under sub-section (1), either on its own motion or otherwise, call for the records relevant to disposing of such appeal and make such orders as it thinks fit. An appeal lies to this Court against an order of the APTEL, other than an interlocutory order, under Section 37 on the grounds set out in Section 100 of the Code of Civil Procedure 1908. With this background, we now turn to the PNGRB Act under the aegis of which the ninth round of CGD bidding occurred.

PNGRB Act and regulations


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