SHRI. M.K. ABDULLA SONA :Â MEMBER
This appeal prefers from the order passed by the CDRF, Kottayam in CC No. 340/09 dated: 15.3.2011. The appellant who prefers this appeal from the order passed by the Forum below that the Forum below dismissed the complaint. The complainant in the OP is the appellant and the respondents are the opposite parties in the above said OP.
2. In short, the complainant is the Chairman of the Rural Development Centre, a Charitable Organization who availed two electric connections from opposite parties bearing Nos. 7764 and 10906. In the aforesaid Nos, a ladies hostel by the said charitable organization is functioning. The monthly bills are being paid without any default. Due to the enmity of same officials of KSEB towards the complainant, the 2nd opposite party issued a bill for Rs. 27,098/- . The said connection is having no electricity charge arrears, but it was wrongfully stated in the bill that there existed arrears amounting to Rs. 25,918/-. The complainant alleged that the mahazar was falsely prepared. The Complainant further alleged that on 18.09.09, a line man came for meter inspection and under the instigation of the said line man; two officials of the complainant had put signatures as proof for meter inspection. Even though one of the staff was made to write as â Read the Mahazar and received the copyâ and signed it, no copy was served to the complainant. No such inspection or preparation of mahazar based on that occurred on the said day. No additional load is being used by the complainants institution. According to the complainant, the issuance of such an illegal bill is due to the deficiency in service of the opposite party. Hence the complainant filed this complaint claiming the cancellation of bill no. 7774, compensation of Rs.25,000/- and litigation cost.
3. On notice; of the opposite parties entered appearance and filed their written version, they contended that the opposite parties never been in personal enmity with the complainant and the averment that a bill for Rs.27,908/- has been issued out of previousÂ enmity is false. On 18.9.09 , a surprise inspection was conducted by the authorized office Under Section 126 of the Electricity Act and it is found that Consumer No. 7764 has an unauthorized load of 7KW and a mahazer was prepared and copy of the same was given to the employees present. The consumer No. 7764 is having only an authorized load of 4KW. A penal bill for Rs.27,098/- was issued provisionally on 23.9.09 along with a letter stating actual facts and the person authorized by the complainant received the said bill. The bill for Rs.27,098/- was issued as a penal bill not as arrears. The complainant had preferred a complaint with the same relief vide Cc No.290/09 before the Forum below and this Forum closed the complaint with a direction to approach the assessing officer for filling objection. The complainant has not availed the said opportunity and filed this complaint. The averment that the mahazar was prepared falsely is not true. The mahazer was prepared in the presence of two employees of the complainant and there after a copy was duly served upon him also. The averment that under the instigation of lineman, two staffs of the complainant had put signatures as proof for meter inspection is totally false. The staff put the signature after verifying its contents and if otherwise it should have found place in the earlier complaint. The opposite parties prayed to dismiss the complaint on the basis that they didnt commit any deficiency in service.4. There are two points mainly raised by the Forum below for determination of the disputes.
1.Â Whether there is any deficiency in service or unfair trade practice on the part of the opposite parties.
2. Reliefs and costs.
5. The evidence consisted of affidavits filed by both parties and marked documents as Exts. A1to A7 and B1 to B4. The Forum below discussed the entire evidence and heard the parties and taken a view that if an unauthorized load is found by the opposite parties they can assess at the rate equal to 2 times with tariff applicable for a period of 12 months immediately proceeding the date of inspection much imposed, as per Section 126 (5) (6) of Electricity Amendment Act, 2007. The Fora taken a view that the assessment of the opposite party is correct, hence the impugned bill issued by them is also upheld by the Forum below.
6. In the result, the Forum below dismissed the complaint with taken a lenient view that the opposite parties directed to collect the balance amount and in three equal monthly installments.
7. This impugned order was challenged by the appellant/complainant in this commission.
8. On this day, this appeal came before the commission for final hearing the authorized agent of the appellant appeared as a party in person and the standing counsel of the respondent/opposite parties are also present. They argued their own cases vehemently before this commission.
9. We heard in detail and perused the entire evidence adduced by both parties before the Forum below. The Authorized agent of the appellant/complainant argued on the grounds of the appeal memorandum is that the mahazar prepared by the opposite parties marked as Ext. B1 is not prepared legally. It is none but a result of an enmity of a line man and other two staffs of the opposite parties. The witnesses cited and signed in the mahazar from the part of the complainant are strangers who were working under institution of the tenant of the complainant. According to the appellant this witness signed in the mahazar after the inducement of the opposite parties. These witnesses are not genuine witnesses and are not aware about the facts and circumstances of the case and the mahazar. The appellant argued that in earlier they filed the complaint before the Forum below in CC No. 340/09 which was allowed in favor to the complainant. The subject matter of this complaint is also a subsequent cause of action of the earlier complaint. He submitted that the impugned bill issued by the opposite parties is illegal and irregular. It is a unfair trade practice and deficiency in service. The Forum below did not perused the entire evidence adduced by both sides and simply dismissed the complaint. He prays to allow this appeal and also to allow the complaint. The counsel for the opposite parties submitted that they strictly complied all legal formalities and prepared the Ext. B1 mahazar. The complainant did not put any allegation about the genuinity of the witnesses cited from the premises of the consumers building. They did not take any steps to examine these witnesses. The Forum below did not find any illegality or irregularly from the part of the opposite party in detect the unauthorized load taken by the complainant and prepared the mahazar Ext. B1. Ext. B2 is the detail statement prepared by the opposite parties and issued the impugned bill on the basis of the Ext. B1 and B2 documents. The counsel for the opposite parties submitted that the assessment was done by the opposite parties as per the Section 126(5) (6) of Electricity Amendment Act 2007 an assessment at the rate equal to two times the tariff applicable for a period of 12 months immediately proceeding the date of inspection must be imposed. The counsel for the respondents/opposite parties submitted that the impugned bill issued by the opposite parties is after comply all formalities of law and procedure and the complainant is liable to pay the bill amount. The order passed by the Forum below is strictly accordance with the provisions of law and evidence and there is no reason to allow the appeal filed by the appellant.
10. We noted that the earlier complaint filed by the complainant before the very same Forum and the very same Forum directed the opposite parties to consider the matter alone. It is not a considered order, but the appellant submitted that the order passed by the Forum below in favorable to the complainant and the further order which was contradictory to the earlier order is not acceptable. It is a mere argument. Another point we are seeing that the appellant submitted that the Ext. B1 mahazar prepared by the opposite parties not accordance with the provisions of law and witnesses cited by the opposite parties are not independent witnesses. Witnesses are employees who were employed in the tenants institution. We are not seeing that the complainant taken any steps to examine the witness. The complainant did not put any allegation against this witness in their complaint. This submission is nothing but a after thought. But we are seeing that the assessment made by the opposite parties as per Exts. B1 and B2 are partly correct. The appellant/complainant was a consumer who regularly paying this monthly amount without due to the opposite parties, there is no default from their side.Â But as per the Ext. B2; we are seeing that opposite parties collected apart from the penal fee and price of the electric meter also from the part of the complainant. As per the Ext. B1 there is no damage caused by the complainant to the electric meter. There is no case for tampering the meter and unauthorizedly taken the electric energy by the complainant. He is only liable to pay the unauthorized load allowed by him. But the opposite parties targeted the complainant both for unauthorized load tumbled the meter and for the repayment of the electric charges which already paid by the complainant to the opposite parties. It is illegal and irregular. We do no how the opposite parties are assessed all this amount and compel the complainant to pay this amount from his own pocket. There is no doubt that it is unfair trade practice and deficiency in service as per the provisions of the Consumer Protection Act. The complainant is only liable to pay Rs. 9,240 + Rs. 3,85 = (Total amount 9,625/-) The opposite parties have no right to collect Rs. 27,098/-. As per the fact and circumstance as per the available evidence in the case file and heard in detail by both parties we are seeing that the order passed by the Forum below is without considering and examine the documents carefully and passed the order without follow the provisions of law and principles. We decided to interfere in the impugned order passed by the Forum below. There is an apparent error in the order passed by the Forum below. We decided to set aside the impugned order passed by the Forum below. Nobody have the legal right to collect twice tariff amount. Here the complainant already paid his regular tariff amount subsequently it is not necessary to pay this very same amount again.In the result, this appeal is allowed in part. The order passed by the Forum below is set aside. The impugned bill issued by the opposite parties bill No.7764 is hereby set aside. The complainant is liable to pay Rs.9,625/- to the opposite parties on equal 3 by monthly installments. Both the complaint and the appeal allowed in part accordingly. The points of the appeal discussed one by one and answered as per the above findings, no cost ordered.