The Ministry of Power (‘MoP’) has issued an Order dated June 9, 2023, delegating its powers of granting approvals under Sections 68 (provisions related to overhead lines) and 164 (exercise of powers of telegraph in certain cases) of the Electricity Act, 2003 (‘Electricity Act’) to the Joint Secretary (Transmission), MoP (‘June Order’). Earlier, by way of an Order dated February 12, 2015 (‘2015 Order’), the MoP had delegated its power for granting these approvals to the Chairperson of Central Electricity Authority (‘CEA’).
The aforesaid change brought by the MoP may possibly be linked to a recent judgment pronounced by the Hon’ble High Court of Karnataka in the case of Emmanuel Vincent D’Sa v. Union of India and Ors dated March 29, 2023 (‘UKTL Order’), where a single judge bench held that the delegation of authority for granting of prior approval under Sections 68 and 164 of the Electricity Act by the Central Government to the Chairperson of CEA was without authority of law as Section 68 of the Electricity Act does not confer any power to the Central Government to delegate such power. Consequently, the Hon’ble Karnataka High Court quashed the prior approval accorded by the CEA under Section 68 of the Electricity Act to Udupi Kasargode Transmission Limited insofar as it related to the laying of overhead transmission lines on the lands of the petitioners in this case.
It is pertinent to note that the UKTL Order does not strike down the 2015 Order in its entirety and, accordingly, the UKTL Order should not affect the validity of approvals granted by the Chairperson, CEA under Sections 68 and 164 of the Electricity Act for all the other transmissions lines. However, the risk of other Courts agreeing with the ratio of the UKTL Order and striking down such transmission line approval needs to be considered by the transmission licensees.
 Emmanuel Vincent D’Sa v. Union of India and Ors, WP No. 20819 of 2021