All the Writ Courts Are Courts of Equity, They Are Not Known to Deny Relief to Aggrieved on Technical Grounds per se: Karnataka High Court

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Excerpt

On 6.07.2021, the Dharwad bench of the Karnataka High court had partly allowed an intra-court Writ Appeal regarding the matter of electricity arrears with Rs. 17.36 crore.

Brief Facts of the Case

The Petitioner filed a Writ Petition against the power supply company for not providing the power connection, unless the previous arrears were paid, i.e Rs. 17.36 crore (almost doubled at the time of filing the petition), the power supply couldn’t be sanctioned. The Writ Petition was dismissed by the Single Judge Bench. Thus, the petitioner had filed an intra-court Writ Appeal regarding the issue. 

Arguments by the Petitioner

To begin with, the Learned Counsel of Petitioner had submitted that the arrears of power supply charges were not an encumbrance, thus it didn’t run with the land. The buyer (Petitioner) had bought the land in an auction, therefore, he couldn’t be made liable for such payment. In addition, it was submitted that since on the day of the auction the petitioner had no information about such arrears, thus, he couldn’t be made liable vicariously for the same. Further, it was submitted that it would be unjust and unfair for a prospective consumer to pay the entire arrears. It was also contended that since the supply company had already raised the claim against the predecessor-in-title, thus, couldn’t raise the claim against the petitioners. 

Arguments by Respondent

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The learned counsel of the Respondent had submitted that the case was not of coercive recovery but a matter only of a precondition for availing the power supply to the land in question. Further, the counsel had cited the “Condition of Supply of Electricity of the Distributed Licensees in the State of Karnataka”. Further, referring to the argument made by the Petitioner regarding ‘vicarious liability, the respondent had submitted the conventional condition of caveat emptor. 

Court’s Observation

The Dharwad bench of the Karnataka High Court noted all the arguments made by both the learned counsel of petitioner and respondents. The court cited the judgement of the apex court in the case of Paschimanchal Vidyut Vitran vs M/S Dvs Steels & Alloys ((2009) 1 SCC 210 ), to put away certain arguments submitted by both parties. The court further noted that the theft of electricity could be both tort and crime. 

Court’s Decision

The division bench had allowed the Writ Appeal in part. It was held that the respondent should consider afresh the apportionment of the liability of arrears. Further, it should consider the application of power supply within four weeks. Besides, in all other aspects, the impugned order was kept intact. 

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Click here to view the full judgment


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