Supreme Court: Refusing to interfere with the decision of the Gujarat High Court directing Essar Steel India Ltd. (ESL) to pay electricity duty amounting to Rs. 562 Crores together with interest totaling Rs. 1038.27 Crores to the State of Gujarat, the bench of Dr. A.K. Sikri and Ashok Bhushan, JJ said that the statutory conditions for grant of exemption as contained in Section 3(2)(vii)(a) of the Bombay Electricity Duty Act, 1958 can neither be tinkered with nor diluted.
ESL holds 42% shares in Essar Power Ltd. (EPL) which is a duly incorporated company under the provisions of Companies Act, 1956, which is a generating company selling/supplying electrical energy. The Court noticed that both ESL and EPL are distinct separate legal entities and merely because ESL might have 42% shares holding in EPL, it cannot be said that ESL is generating electricity jointly with EPL and EPL is generating electricity jointly with ESL for use of electricity by ESL.
It was further stated that even assuming ESL and EPL are jointly generating the energy for the use of industrial undertaking which are jointly generating the energy, the Gujarat Electricity Board to whom 300 MW has been allocated cannot be held to be industrial undertaking which is jointly generating the energy with appellant. The Statutory scheme for grant of exemption has to be strictly construed. EPL is not jointly generating energy with Gujarat Electricity Board and it is selling the energy to the extent of 300 MW to Gujarat Electricity Board. Hence, the conditions of the statutory provisions of Section 3(2)(vii)(a) of the Act are not fulfilled. [Essar Steel India Ltd. v. State of Gujarat, CIVIL APPEAL NO. 4842 OF 2017, decided on 02.05.2017]