BEFORE THE DISTRICT CONSUMER DISPUTES REDRESSAL FORUM, MOGA.
Complaint No: 102 of 2008
Instituted On: 22.12.2008
Ram Singh (aged 35 years) son of Sh.Nahar Singh resident of village: Daudhar Garbi, near Halti, Tehsil and District Moga.
Date of Service: 15.01.2009
1. Punjab State Electricity Board, service be got effected through Secretary, The Mall, Patiala.
2. Executive Engineer, Sub Urban Division, Punjab State Electricity Board, Moga.
3. Sub Divisional Officer, Punjab State Electricity Board, Ajitwal, District Moga.
Complaint under section 12 of The
Quorum: Sh.J.S.Chawla, President.
Consumer Protection Act, 1986.
Present: Sh.Pardeep Bharti,Adv.counsel for the complainant.
Sh.Ajay Gulati, Adv. counsel for the OPs-Board.
Sh.Ram Singh complainant has filed the present complaint under section 12 of The Consumer Protection Act, 1986 (herein-after referred to as ‘Act’) against Punjab State Electricity Board through its Secretary, The Mall, Patiala (herein-after referred to as ‘Board’) and others-opposite parties directing them to quash the demand of Rs.46760/- raised vide bill dated 02.12.2008 and also to pay Rs.10000/- as compensation on account of harassment and mental tension or any other relief to which this Forum may deem fit be granted.
2. Briefly stated, Sh.Ram Singh complainant is a ‘consumer’ of the OPs-Board having domestic electric connection bearing account no.F51DF782095Y installed at his residential premises with sanctioned load of 2.80 KW. That the complainant has been using the said connection and paying the consumption charges regularly and nothing is due against him. That earlier the complainant received a notice dated 6.2.2008 from the OPs-Board vide which they demanded Rs.14569/-. That the average consumption of the complainant never exceeded Rs.500/- bi-monthly. That Gurpartap Singh, J.E. due to his personal grudge against him has lavelled the false allegation of ‘theft of energy’. That the demand raised by the OPs-Board is against the mandatory provisions of the law. That the aforesaid act and conduct of the OPs-Board has caused great inconvenience, harassment and mental agony to him for which he has claimed Rs.10000/- as compensation beside costs of the litigation. Hence the present complaint.
3. Notice of the complaint was given to the OPs-Board, who appeared through Sh.Ajay Gulati, Advocate and filed written reply contesting the same. They took up preliminary objections that the complaint is not maintainable in the present form; that the complainant has already deposited the amount of Rs.14589/- without any protest; that this Forum has got no jurisdiction to try and decide the present complaint; that the complainant is estopped by his act and conduct to file the present complaint and that there is no deficiency in service on the part of the OPs-Board. On merits, it was averred that in fact, on 04.02.2008 Sh.Gurpartap Singh, Junior Engineer, PSEB, Sub Division, Ajitwal checked the electric connection in question in the presence of the complainant and found him committing theft of electricity by way of kundi connection i.e. directly taping main PVC wire. The electricity meter was stopped and was not recording consumption. The checking was made in the presence of the complainant, but he refused to sign the checking report. That the checking authority declared it as a case of ‘theft of energy’. Thereafter, notice dated 06.02.2008 of provisional order of assessment for ‘unauthorized use of electricity’ was served upon the complainant to deposit Rs.14569/- under section 126 of Electricity Act, 2003 and the impugned demand raised by them was deposited by the complainant. That the said amount has been calculated taking the load factor as 30%. That the audit party vide its half margin no.119 of 5/08 detected this mistake and raised further demand of Rs.46517/- on account of difference of amount of ‘theft of electricity’ vide notice no. 2724 dated 24.10.2008, but the complainant did not deposit the same. Hence, the impugned amount has been added in the consumption bill of the complainant dated 02.12.2008 to which the OPs-Board is legally entitled to recover. All other allegations contained in the complaint were specifically denied being wrong and incorrect. Hence, it was prayed that the complaint filed by the complainant has no merit and it deserves dismissal.
4. In order to prove his case, the complainant tendered in evidence his affidavit Ex.A1, copies of bills Ex.A2 to Ex.A6 and closed his evidence.
5. To rebut the evidence of the complainant, the OPs-Board tendered in evidence affidavit Ex.R1 of Sh.D.S.Toor, Sr.XEN , copy of notice Ex.R2, copy of half margin Ex.R3, copy of another notice Ex.R4 and closed their evidence.
6. We have heard the arguments of Sh.Pardeep Bharti, ld. counsel for the complainant and Sh.Ajay Gulati, ld. counsel for the OPs-Board and have very carefully perused the evidence on the file.
7. Sh.Pardeep Bharti ld.counsel for the complainant has mainly argued that the impugned demand of Rs.46760/- raised vide bill dated 02.12.2008 by the OPs-Board is wrong and illegal because the complainant had already paid Rs.14589/- on account of ‘unauthorized use of electricity’. This contention of the ld.counsel for the complainant has full force. Admittedly, the OPs-Board found the complainant using the unauthorized electricity and vide notice dated 06.02.2008 he was directed to pay Rs.14589/- which he deposited.
8. Now it is contended by ld.counsel for the OPs-Board that they have charged the complainant for ‘unauthorized use of electricity’ by taking 30% load factor whereas he was to be charged by taking 100% load factor. This contention of the ld.counsel for the OPs-Board has no merit. Circular 53/2006 of the OPs-Board shows that in cases of theft/ unauthorized use of electricity, a domestic consumer can be charged by taking 30% load factor. The case of the complainant who is a domestic consumer does not fall under direct theft mentioned in category ‘e’ of rule (1) of said circular. Thus, the OPs-Board has wrongly issued the fresh notice to him directing to pay the difference of the amount on account of ‘unauthorized use of electricity’ by taking 100% load factor instead of 30% already charged.
9. Moreover, the OPs-Board is estopped by their act and conduct to raise the impugned demand when they have already charged the complainant for ‘unauthorized use of electricity’ by taking 30% load factor. Hence, the OPs-Board has wrongly and illegally issued the impugned notice to the complainant to pay the difference of charges on account of ‘unauthorized use of electricity’. Thus, there is deficiency in service on the part of the OPs-Board in demanding the impugned amount and we quash and set aside the same.
10. To prove the aforesaid contention, the complainant produced his affidavit Ex.A1, copies of bills Ex.A2 to Ex.A6 and we believe and rely upon the same. On the other hand, no reliance could be placed on affidavit Ex.R1 of Sh.D.S.Toor, Sr.XEN and documents Ex.R2 to Ex.R4 and we discard the same.
11. The ld. counsel for the parties did not urge or argue any other point before us.
12. In view of the aforesaid facts and circumstances, the complaint filed by the complainant has merit and the same is accepted. Hence, the impugned demand of Rs.46760/- raised by the OPs-Board vide bill dated 02.12.2008 is set aside and quashed. The OPs-Board is also directed to pay Rs.1000/- as compensation on account of mental tension, agony and harassment. Copies of the order be sent to the parties free of cost and thereafter the file be consigned to the record room.
(Jit Singh Mallah) (J.S.Chawla)
Announced in Open Forum.