Case Law Details

Case Name : BDS Steel Vs Assam Power Distribution Co. Ltd (Gauhati High Court)
Appeal Number : Case No. WP(C)/2942/2021
Date of Judgement/Order : 11/05/2021
Related Assessment Year :

BDS Steel Vs Assam Power Distribution Co. Ltd (Gauhati High Court)

The learned Senior Counsel for the petitioner has submitted that in the writ petition, the petitioner has disputed that this was a case of theft of electricity and therefore, it is submitted that the petitioner is not required to approach the Special Court as provided for in Section 154 of the Electricity Act. Referring to various interim orders passed by this Court including order dated 23.02.2021 passed in WP(C) 1079/2021, it is submitted that under similar circumstances, this Court had passed an interim order to restore the electricity power supply on deposit of a part of the dues raised by the respondent and he prays for similar interim relief.

Per contra, the learned Senior Counsel for the respondents has vehemently opposed the maintainability of this writ petition by submitting that as per the inspection report, it was a case of theft of electricity as provided for under Section 154 of the Electricity Act. Referring to the provisions of Section 135(1A) of the Electricity Act, 2003 read with Section 154 of the Electricity Act, it is submitted that the petitioner is required to appear before the Special Court and to agitate his grievance. It is submitted that the said Special Court has the competence to determine the civil liability and accordingly, it is submitted that the present writ petition would not be maintainable. It is further submitted that in terms of Sub-Section 135(1A) of the Electricity Act, for securing reconnection of power, as, a precondition, the consumer is required to pay the entire assessment amount.

Considering that the learned Senior Counsel for the respondent has raised a question of jurisdiction, the matter needs further consideration. Accordingly, let a notice returnable on 14.06.2021 be issued. Also issue notice on the prayer for interim relief.

Having regard to the contested submissions of both sides and by taking note of the order dated 23.02.2021 passed by this Court in WP(C) 1079/2021, the Court is inclined to provide as an interim measure that only upon deposit of an amount of Rs. 20,00,000/-, the respondents shall restore the electricity power supply to the petitioner within the next 24 hours of the deposit being made. It is further provided that the current electricity charges would be continued to be paid by the petitioner as and when bills are raised. Needless to mention that requirement of any further deposit of assessment bill amount would be subject to further orders of the Court

FULL TEXT OF THE HIGH COURT ORDER /JUDGEMENT

Heard Dr. A.K. Saraf, learned Senior Counsel, assisted by Mr. S.K. Kejriwal, learned counsel for the petitioner. Also heard Mr. B.D. Das, learned Senior Counsel, assisted by Mr. S.K. Sarma, learned standing counsel for the respondents.

The petitioner is a consumer under the respondents APDCL under category HT-II category. The case projected by the learned Senior Counsel for the petitioner is that an inspection was carried out in the premises of the petitioner on 03.04.2021 and in the general remarks of observation noted by the inspection team in their report, it had been mentioned that CT PT top cover seals are inspected and found in doubtful condition. Even as per seizure report, it has been mentioned that existing top cover seals bearing two serial numbers mentioned therein are in doubtful condition and hence, CT PT set was seized. The power supply was temporarily disconnected vide notification dated 07.04.2021 issued by the concerned authority and a final bill dated 30.04.2021 for Rs.1,95,16,379/- was served on the petitioner. On lodging of FIR, a case had been registered in the Changsari PS.

The learned Senior Counsel for the petitioner has submitted that a false case was registered and no case of theft was deducted at site. In the additional affidavit filed by the petitioners after institution of this writ petition, it is stated that the representation by the petitioner in respect of final bill was rejected by the authorities by order dated 29.04.2021.

The learned Senior Counsel for the petitioner has submitted that in the writ petition, the petitioner has disputed that this was a case of theft of electricity and therefore, it is submitted that the petitioner is not required to approach the Special Court as provided for in Section 154 of the Electricity Act. Referring to various interim orders passed by this Court including order dated 23.02.2021 passed in WP(C) 1079/2021, it is submitted that under similar circumstances, this Court had passed an interim order to restore the electricity power supply on deposit of a part of the dues raised by the respondent and he prays for similar interim relief.

Per contra, the learned Senior Counsel for the respondents has vehemently opposed the maintainability of this writ petition by submitting that as per the inspection report, it was a case of theft of electricity as provided for under Section 154 of the Electricity Act. Referring to the provisions of Section 135(1A) of the Electricity Act, 2003 read with Section 154 of the Electricity Act, it is submitted that the petitioner is required to appear before the Special Court and to agitate his grievance. It is submitted that the said Special Court has the competence to determine the civil liability and accordingly, it is submitted that the present writ petition would not be maintainable. It is further submitted that in terms of Sub-Section 135(1A) of the Electricity Act, for securing reconnection of power, as, a precondition, the consumer is required to pay the entire assessment amount.

Considering that the learned Senior Counsel for the respondent has raised a question of jurisdiction, the matter needs further consideration. Accordingly, let a notice returnable on 14.06.2021 be issued. Also issue notice on the prayer for interim relief.

As the learned standing counsel for the respondents accepts notice, requisite extra copies of the writ petition be furnished to them within 3 days.

The learned Senior Counsel for the respondents has brought to the notice of the Court that different Benches of this Court have been passing interim orders from time to time in different cases, which according to him is inconsistent with regard to the quantum of money ordered to be deposited by virtue of interim orders. In agreement with what has been submitted by the learned Senior Counsel for the respondents, the learned Senior Counsel for the petitioner has referred to the case of Vishnu Traders Vs. State of Haryana, (1995) Supp. SCC 461 to project that there should be consistency in the interim order which should be uniformed and predictable and certainty of judicial approach. Accordingly, it would be open to the respondents to take such appropriate steps in that regard as they may be so advised.

Having regard to the contested submissions of both sides and by taking note of the order dated 23.02.2021 passed by this Court in WP(C) 1079/2021, the Court is inclined to provide as an interim measure that only upon deposit of an amount of Rs. 20,00,000/-, the respondents shall restore the electricity power supply to the petitioner within the next 24 hours of the deposit being made. It is further provided that the current electricity charges would be continued to be paid by the petitioner as and when bills are raised. Needless to mention that requirement of any further deposit of assessment bill amount would be subject to further orders of the Court

The respondent shall file their affidavit-in-opposition at least two days prior to the next date of listing. On the next date, the issue of maintainability would be heard.

List on 14.06.2021.

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