Smt.Vanajakshamma w/o. T.S.Ranganath,
Kalpataru Bricks & Tiles, Complainant
Huliyar, C.N.Halli Taluk
1. Executive Engineer,
BESCOM Ltd, Divisional office,
2. Assistant Executive Engineer, Opposite Parties
BESCOM Ltd, Sub division,
3. Section Officer,
Huliyar, C.N.Halli Taluk
This is a complaint filed Under Section 12 of Consumer Protection Act, 1986 (hereinafter called the Act for short).
2. Through this complaint, the complainant prays for an award and order against the Opposite Parties (hereinafter called as the OPs for short) to refund the amount of Rs.27,070/- with interest at the rate of 18% per annum from 30-12-2008 to the date of satisfaction and to pay adequate compensation.
3. It is the claim of the complainant that she is running an industrial unit under the name and style “Kalpataru Bricks and Tiles works” at Huliyar and she is carrying on the said business for the last 19 years. She is a consumer under the OPs. Electrical service was given to her on 27-6-1990 under R.R. No.HP-93.
4. It is further contended that, the said meter had stopped working on 5-3-2007. Immediately a letter was addressed to the 3rd OP on the same day. It was requested to get the meter repaired immediately. Owing to the defective machineries of the industry, the complainant had stopped work from 12-11-2007 for nearly 20 days. As a result, the reading of the meter was reduced considerably. The same was brought to the notice of the OPs by letter dated 12-11-2007.
5. It is further contended that, on 23-11-2008, the officials of the OPs Company visited the complainant unit and inspected the meter. The meter was found defective. Based on this report, the OPs concluded that, the said meter being defective was running to the extent of 29% on the normal pace and made a demand for payment of Rs.28,424/- and the same was received on 26-11-2008.
6. It if further contended that, the complainant is innocent of the above defect and she is an unblemished customer since 1990. As and when, the meter went defective, she promptly reported the same and requested for either complete repairs or replacement of the meter. The complainant was not made aware of the lifespan of the said meter. The OPs turned a deaf ear for all these days and suddenly have come up with a bill demanding the aforesaid amount. The complainant was shocked and to make aware of the details of the same made an application dated 1-12-2008 seeking for details. Instead of giving details, the OPs have abruptly disconnected the electrical supply. Having left with no other alternative, the complainant paid the bill amount of Rs.27,070/- with a protest letter dated 30-12-2008. After the payment, the OPs made the electrical power available to the complainant.
7. It is further contended that, the complainant is a law abiding citizen. She has been subjected to untold misery, financial loss apart from the loss of reputation for no fault of her. The action of the OPs besides high handedness is also whimsical. The attitude of the OPs in serving this customer cannot be justified in the name of law. The arrogant and illegal action of the OPs deserves to be condemned at once.
8. It is further contended that, having undertaken to serve the customer to their satisfaction, the OPs in this have proved themselves guilty of insufficient service. It is clearly an unfair trade practice for which law is required to view it seriously. Both for deficiency in service and unfair trade practice the OPs are required to be dealt with thoroughly. The complainant is entitled to be compensated adequately. Hence, this complaint.
9. The OPs who have been notified of the complaint entered appearance through their counsel. The 3rd OP filed objection which came to be adopted by the other OPs.
10. The sum and substance of the objections filed by the 3rd OP discloses that, immediately after the intimation from the complainant about the stoppage of machine due to defects, and request for verification of the meter and its replacement, on the next day i.e. on 6-3-2007, the section officer, unit No.1 Huliyar as replaced the meter. It was informed by the complainant that she had stopped her machinery works for 20 days as there were defects in the machine. It is contended that, they have calculated the consumption of the electricity on the basis of the consumption recorded the meter. On verification of the meter they found that, the meter was only recording the consumption to the extent of 71% eventhough the consumption of the electricity was 100%. Therefore, as provided under Electricity Supply Rule, they have taken average consumption for a period of 6 months and issued a back bill for Rs.28,424/-. It is contended that, on 26-11-08 the complainant who received the demand notice, paid the same on 31-12-2009. It is contended that, since the electricity consumption by the complainant was more than 40 HP, they had to replace the meter on 19-1-2009. The delay was due to unavailability of suitable meter. It is contended that, since they have acted as per the rules provided under Electricity supply Rules, there is no deficiency in service. Accordingly, they pray for dismissal of the complaint.
11. In support of the case, the complainant and the OPs have filed affidavits. The complainant and the OPs have filed pressed into several documents. We have heard the learned counsels appearing for the parties. We have also examined the materials available on records.
12. The questions that arise for our consideration are:
1) Is there any deficiency of service on the part of the OPs?
2) Is the complainant entitled to the relief as prayed for?
13. It is necessary to note that, under the Karnataka Electricity Regulation Act, if the department finds any defects in the meter or a case where the meter is not a recording the actual consumption, the concerned authority has got right to take an average consumption preceding three months of billing and demand back billing charges. The statute also provides an appeal against that order before the competent authority. Therefore, when remedy of appeal is available, the complainant cannot question such order before the Civil Court or Forum. It is necessary to state that, Hon’ble High Court of Karnataka in “The Executive Engineer, KPTCL now GESCOM and Ors –vs- Ishwaramma and Another”, reported in ILR 2005 KAR 5206 as held thus:
“ELECTRICITY ACT, 2003 – SECTION 145 – JURISDICTION WHETHER THE PROVISIONS OF SECTION 145 WOULD OUST THE JURISDICTION OF THE CIVIL COURT OR ANY OTHER FORUM – HELD – A reading of Section 145 of the Act would clearly indicate that no Civil Court shall have the Jurisdiction to entertain any suit or proceedings in respect of any other matter which the assessing officer referred to in Section 127 or an appellate authority referred to in Section 127 is empowered to determine or Act, only on such conditions being satisfied the jurisdiction of the Civil Court as well as any other forum is ousted. Section 145 of the Act by implication would exclude jurisdiction of Civil Court or any other forum on adjudicating the claim or action of the petitioners”.
14. Therefore, when equal efficacious remedy of appeal is available, it cannot to be said that, the complaint is maintainable before this forum. Further, when the OPs have acted in conformity with the statute, it can not be said that, there is a deficiency in service or unfair trade practice. Therefore, we hold that this complaint lacks of merits and it is liable to be rejected. Therefore, we proceed to pass the following:
The complaint is dismissed but without costs.