Writ Petition filed in the Bombay High Court against the inflated electricity bills. Bombay High Court upholds an order passed by the same court in a similar matter. It directs the petitioner to approach the Grievance Redressal Forum.
Brief Facts of the case
The consumers received exorbitant electricity bills during the worldwide pandemic of COVID-19. The respondents have also threatened the consumers with discontinuation of electricity if the bills aren’t cleared.
The respondents raised a preliminary objection to the petition instituted by the petitioner. The respondents rely on a judgment passed in PIL No. 41 of 2020 (“aforesaid Judgment”) by the Bombay High Court in a similar matter. Bombay HC held that the Grievance Redressal Mechanism instituted under the Electricity Act, 2003 was enough to redress grievances related to electricity bills. The respondents submit that the concerns raised by the petitioners have been addressed in the aforesaid Judgment. Hence, the present PIL must be disposed of.
The respondent also brings to the notice of the court a press note issued by the Electricity Commission. It highlights specific points issued by the Commissions for the benefit of the consumers.
In response to the objections raised by the respondents, the petitioner contends that due to the ongoing lockdown, it is impractical for the consumers to approach the Grievance Redressal Officer. Thus, the grievance redressal mechanism fails to serve as an efficient remedy. The petitioner also submits that the distribution licensees are issuing notices to the consumers threatening to disconnect electricity if the bills aren’t paid within the due date. Due to the presence of these extraordinary circumstances, the Bombay HC must intervene.
The court agrees with the decision passed in Mhaibub D. Shaikh v. The State of Maharashtra & Ors. Furthermore, observes that it covers the concerns of the present petition.
The court observes that the press note issued by the Commission is enough to fulfil prayer (a) of the petition.
In respect of prayer (b), the court observes that the revised tariff is for the benefit of the consumers. In case the respondents fail to follow the aforesaid, the consumers have the option to approach the Grievance Redressal Officer.
In respect of prayer (c) seeking concessions, the court relies on K.V. Rajalakshmiah Setty & Ors. v. State of Mysore & Ors. To reject the said prayer.
In respect of prayer (d) and (e) on levying of penalty and disconnection of the electricity, the court opined that the press note fulfilled the requirements.
The court thus observed that no intervention by way of Writ was required.
The court states that it is open to each consumer to avail the remedy made available under the press note. The Grievance Redressal Officer must take cognizance of the grievances and must promptly decide the same. The court directs the respondents to abide by the terms of the press note issued by the Commission until it remains in force. In light of the observations and directions issued, the court disposed of the present petition.
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