Apex court upholds removal of top UP power official

Ruling that his appointment by the then Mayawati government showed absence of "intellectual objectivity" in decision making, the Supreme Court has confirmed removal of Rajesh Awasthi as the chairman of the Uttar Pradesh State Electricity Regulatory Commission (SERC).

"I conclude that there has been total non-compliance of the statutory provision by the Selection Committee which makes the decision-making process vulnerable, warranting interference by the constitutional courts and, therefore, the High Court is justified in holding that the appointment is non est (non-existent) in law," held a Bench of Justices K S Radhakrishnan and Dipak Misra.

Dismissing Awasthi's appeal against the Allahabad HC order quashing his appointment as the chairperson, the court held that his selection by the Selection Committee was "unsustainable" since legal provisions were breached while appointing him.

The main ground for quashing Awasthi's appointment was the contention that he was not eligible for selection and appointment because of "interest involved with the state government with M/s J P Power Venture of which he was vice-president".

Allowing a plea by a former energy department employee, Nand Lal Jaiswal, the HC had said the UP government might hold fresh selection with prior permission of the Election Commission in accordance with rule or on its own motion after the assembly elections result is declared.

While the Mayawati government challenged the HC order, the incumbent Akhilesh Yadav government decided to withdraw the state's petition. In August, the SC allowed their application, letting only Awasthi's appeal remain on board for adjudication.

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