B.A. Shaikh, Judicial Member:
1. This appeal is preferred by the original Opposite Party (for short OP) Nos.1 and 2, against the order dated 19/01/2002 passed in consumer complaint bearing CC No.77/2001by the District Forum, Yavatmal by which the complaint has been partly allowed.
2. The case of the complainant, as set out in the complaint, in brief is that he has taken electric connection from the OP Nos.1 and 2 to run his proprietary concern under the name and style as œM/s Sati Oil Mill?. The OP issued excess bill of the month of December,1998 for Rs.9066/- and, therefore, it was returned by the complainant to OP for correction. The OP again sent excess bill of the month of January,1999 for Rs.9207.55/-. Then the OP issued another excess bill of the month of February,99 dated 10/3/1999 for Rs.32,113/-. The said bill for Rs.32,113/- was to be paid till 30/4/1999 with delayed payment charges (DPC). Therefore, the OP had no authority to disconnect electric supply till 30/4/1999 for non payment of that bill. However, the OP disconnected the electric supply on 6/4/1999. Therefore, the complainant issued notice dated 7/5/1999 to the OP No.2 and demanded compensation of Rs.5000/- per day and other losses with interest. The OP gave its false reply. Therefore, the complainant filed the complaint and prayed that direction be given to the OP to pay him total compensation of Rs.4,55,555/- with interest @24% p.a. from the date of complaint till its realization and also to pay him cost of complaint.
3. The OP Nos.1 and 2 resisted the complaint by filing their common written version. It is submitted that a bill for Rs.9066/- dated 8.1.1999 was issued to the complainant for the month of December,1998 which was to be paid on or before 27/1/1999 and that after that date, Rs.9245/- were to be paid. The Bill for January,1999 including the arrears of Rs.9245/- and the current bill of Rs.15,525.20/- i.e. for total Rs.24,769/- was issued to the complainant. Thereafter, the bill for the month of February,1999 showing current bill of Rs.7,427/- and arrears of Rs.24,539.20/- i.e. for total Rs.31,966/- was issued to the complainant and if that bill was not paid within time, then after the given date Rs.32113/- were to be paid. The said bill of February,1999 was issued on 10/3/1999 and last date for payment of that bill was 30/3/1999. In that bill, notice of seven days was given for disconnection, if it is not paid within 7 days. The complainant did not pay that bill on or before 30/3/1999. Thereafter, the bill for the month of March,1999 was issued for Rs.39,642/- which was to be paid on or before 9/4/1999. As the bill for the month of February,1999 was not paid, the electric supply of the complainant was disconnected as per rules on 6/4/1999. The complainant was bound to pay the bill of the month of February,1999 dated 13/3/1999 on or before 20/3/1999. Hence his supply was temporarily disconnected on 6/4/1999. He paid the said bill and reconnection charges on 10/5/1999 and, therefore, his electric supply was restored on the same date. Thus, it is submitted by the OP that it is not responsible to pay compensation to the complainant. It is therefore submitted that complaint may be dismissed.
4. The District Forum below, after hearing advocates of both the parties and considering evidence brought on record came to the conclusion that the bill dated 9/4/1999 produced on record shows that amount of Rs.39642/- was to be paid on or before 29/4/1999 and there is also clear notice printed on it that if the arrears are not paid within 7 days, the supply would be disconnected as per provisions of section 24 (1) of Indian Electricity Act,1910. The Forum also observed that when the time for 7 days from 29/4/1999 was already given to the complainant, it was necessary for the OP to wait from 30/4/1999 to 6/5/1999 and as without waiting till 6/5/1999 the OP disconnected electric supply on 6/4/1999, which is illegal. The Forum also observed that the complainant paid the bill dated 9/4/1999 on 28/4/1999 but the electric supply was not restored on 28/4/1999 or 29/4/1999 but it was restored on 10/5/1999. Therefore, the Forum came to the conclusion that the stoppage of the electric supply from 6/4/99 to 10/5/99 is without any reason and hence the complainant is entitled to the compensation for the loss sustained by him during that period. The Forum below assessed the said loss at Rs.3000/- per day and accordingly awarded total compensation of Rs.1,05,000/- with interest @12% p.a. from 10/5/99 and also awarded compensation of Rs.20,000/- for illegal disconnection of electric supply, further cost of Rs.1000/- towards cost of complaint and refund of reconnection charges of Rs.5040/-. It is also directed that if the OP fails to pay the said amount within 30 days of the receipt of that order, the said amounts shall carry interest @18% p.a. till their realization.
5. Feeling aggrieved by that order the OP has preferred this appeal.
Hereinafter, the OPs are referred to as appellants and the complainant is referred to as respondent.
6. We have heard Advocate Baisani appearing for appellants. The respondent remained absent though this commission issued notice to him. Therefore, this Commission proceeded exparte against him. We have perused the written notes of arguments and other papers filed by the appellant. The learned advocate of the appellant submitted that as per condition No.27 (a) of the Condition and Miscellaneous charges for supply of electrical energy, Seven days time limit for payment of the bill is to be counted from the date of the bill. He further submitted that every time, the bill issued to the consumer carries a notice marked in red color stating that the bill is to be paid within 7 days from the date of bill and in case of default, the electric supply will be disconnected. He further submitted that in the instant case, the arrears of the bill for the month of February,1999 dated 10/3/1999 was to be paid on or before 30/3/1999 and as it was not paid, the supply was disconnected on 6/4/1999. He also submitted that the respondent also did not pay the bill for the month of March,1999 also and hence the Forum below erred in holding the appellant responsible for payment of compensation to the respondent. He thus submitted that impugned order may be set aside and the complaint may be dismissed.
7. The perusal of the bills produced on record shows that the bill dated 8/2/1999 for the period from 28/12/1998 to 31/1/1999 amounting to Rs.25,078/- was issued to the respondent on 8/2/1999 and then the second bill for the period from 28/12/98 to 28/2/99 dated 10/3/99 for Rs.32,113/- was issued to the respondent. Then the third bill for the period from 28/12/1998 to 31/3/1999 dated 9/4/1999 for Rs.39786/- was issued to the respondent. The respondent paid only the last bill for Rs.39786/- on 28/4/1999. It is also not disputed that on each of the said bills notice was printed calling upon the respondent to pay each of the respective bill within 7 days, or otherwise, the supply will be disconnected vide Section 24(1) of Indian Electricicity Act,1910. Moreover, the appellant also served separate notice dated 11/2/1999 to respondent calling upon him to pay Rs.9066/- as outstanding against him upto the month of December,98. As per that notice, he was directed to pay the said amount within 7 days from the receipt of that notice and it is also made clear that failing which the appellant would be compelled to disconnect his electric supply.
8. In our view, when not only a printed notice on each of the aforesaid three bills was given to pay the arrears within 7 days but also a separate notice of 7 days was issued to the respondent. However, the respondent did not pay the arrears of first two bills dated 8/2/1999 and 10/3/1999. The first bill dated 8/2/1999 was to be paid on or before 25/2/1999 and second bill dated 10/3/1999 was to be paid on or before 30/3/1999. At the most the respondent ought to have paid the second bill on or before 6thof April,1999. However, as admittedly, he did not pay the second bill dated 10/3/1999, for the period from 28/12/1998 to 28/2/1999 for Rs.32,113/-, the appellant has rightly disconnected his electric supply on 6/4/1999.
9. It is, thus, not disputed that the bill for the month of February,1999 was issued for Rs.25078/-dated 10/3/1999 and the bill for the month of was issued for Rs.32113/-. The complainant, then paid the third bill dated 9/4/1999 for the whole period from 28/12/1998 to 31/3/1999 for Rs.39786/- on 28/4/1999. In our view, the payment of the said third bill subsequent to the disconnection of electric supply does not give right to the respondent to raise a plea that the electric supply ought not to have been disconnected after lapse of 7 days from the last payment date i.e.29/4/99 of the last bill dated 9/4/1999.
10. We find substance in the submission of the learned advocate of the appellant that the Forum below erred in holding that the appellant would have waited from 30/4/1999 to 6/5/1999 for payment of the last bill dated 9/4/1999. In our view, the time limit of 7 days, in such a case can not be said as extended due to issuance of the last third bill dated 9/4/1999. The said last third bill was issued on 9/4/1999 after disconnection of electric supply on 6/4/1999. Hence, due to issuance of said third bill, after disconnection of electric supply, the respondent does not get any right to claim that earlier disconnection on 6/4/1999 is illegal. Moreover, merely because the respondent paid the said third bill dated 9/4/1999 on 28/4/1999, it can not be said that earlier disconnection of electric supply for non payment of earlier two bills is illegal.
11. It is not disputed that on 10/5/1999 the electric supply of the respondent was restored by the appellant. However, the said electric supply was restored on 10/5/1999 only after the respondent paid restoration charges on 10/5/1999. Hence the disconnection of the electric supply of the respondent on 6/4/1999 and then restoration of the supply on 10/5/1999 by the appellant can be said to be in accordance with the law. Thus, the District Forum below did not properly consider the facts and circumstances of the present case and the legal position discussed above and erred in partly allowing the complaint. The respondent, is, thus, not entitled to any compensation from the appellant. In the result, the impugned order deserves to be set aside.
i. The appeal is allowed. The impugned order dated 19/01/2002 passed in consumer complaint bearing CC No.77/2001 by the District Forum, Yavatmal is set aside.
ii. The complaint stands dismissed.
iii. No order as to costs in appeal.
iv. Copies of the order be supplied to both the parties free of costs.