Baldev Singh Sekhon, Member.
1. This appeal has been filed by the appellant/complainant against the order dated 10.8.2009 passed by the District Consumer Disputes Redressal Forum, Fatehgarh Sahib (in short œDistrict Forum?), vide which his complaint against the respondents/opposite parties was dismissed.
2. The facts, in brief, are that the complainant had an electric connection, bearing account No.K-55 KE 620816 F for domestic purpose, at his residence and he had been regularly paying the electricity bills for the electricity consumed by him. On 25.1.2009, the opposite parties issued a bill of Rs.69,320/- pertaining to the period from 4.11.2008 to 4.1.2009, which included Rs.69,000/- as sundry charges and Rs.320/- for 120 units consumed during the said period. It had no right to recover any amount on account of sundry charges from him. He visited their office a number of times and requested to withdraw the said amount but they lingered on the matter on one pretext or the other, rather they threatened him to disconnect his connection for non-payment of this amount. In the complaint filed before the District Forum, he sought directions to the opposite parties for not recovering the amount of Rs.69,000/-. An amount of Rs.15,000/- as compensation for harassment and mental agony was also prayed.
3. Upon notice, the opposite parties appeared and filed joint written reply pleading therein that the complainant was running a local TV cable network in the name and style of œPrime Cable Networks? as its sole proprietor at Chunni Kalan. This cable network was being run in a rented shop situated at Bus Stand, Chunni Kalan, which was taken on rent by him from one Makhan Singh and was using the electricity through electric connection No.KE65/451 for running the said network. Their officials headed by Sr.Executive Engineer Enforcement, PSEB, Khanna, checked the said Cable Network on 24.4.2008 in the presence of the representative of the complainant, during which, it was found that electricity was being consumed through electric connection, bearing account No.KE- 65/0451. He was also found using 226 poles of the PSEB for supporting/binding the TV cable wires without their permission. It was in violation of the provisions of Commercial Circular No.39/2002 issued by the Chief Engineer, Commercial on 1.8.2002. The details of the electric poles, illegally used by him, were prepared at the spot in the presence of one Daljit Singh, representative of the complainant. Accordingly, rental charges for hiring their poles @ Rs.300/- per pole per annum were charged through notice No.621 dated 5.5.2008 issued to the complainant duly received by the said Daljit Singh. But he failed to deposit Rs.69,000/- and, therefore, he amount, in question, was transferred into his domestic connection, bearing account No.55KE/620816F running at Village Todar Majra, as per rules and regulations of the PSEB. Dismissal of the complaint was prayed.
4. The parties led their evidence by way of affidavits and documents.
5. The District Forum, after going through the pleadings of the parties and evidence on record, dismissed the complaint.
6. Aggrieved by this order, the complainant has come up in appeal on the ground that the he worked as a cable operator in the year 2003 and his licence, issued by the Department of Posts, Ropar for running the same expired in August, 2003 and thereafter he wound up his business. Sh.Makhan Singh, the owner of the shop, in Chunni Kalan, where the cable network was running, has affirmed through his affidavit that the complainant never took his shop on rent for running the cable network business or for any other business or he ever used the electric connection No.K65/451 for this purpose. The opposite parties issued a bill No.51455 dated 9.12.2008 to said Makhan Singh and when he flatly refused to pay the bill, they added this amount in the account of residential connection of the complainant. Acceptance of the appeal, setting aside of the impugned order and allowing of the complaint was prayed.
7. We have thoroughly gone through the pleadings of the parties and have carefully perused the evidence on record.
8. The case of the complainant is that he was not liable to make the payment of Rs.69,000/-, added in his residential domestic connection, because he had discontinued the operation of the cable network as his license for running the same, which expired in April, 2003 was not extended. But the opposite parties had contended that when Sr.Executive Engineer Enforcement, PSEB, Khanna checked the Prime Cable Network, Chunni Kalan on 24.4.2008 in the presence of his representative, it was found that he was consuming electricity through electric connection No.KE65/0451 for running cable network. The checking report of the Sr.Executive Enforcement, PSEB, Khanna is proved as Ex.R-I, perusal of which reveals that Prime Cable Network, Chunni Kalan had installed and supported the TV cable on the poles erected by the opposite parties in Village Chunni Kalan, Chunni Khurd, Sir Kaprah Bahala, Todar Majra and Majad. Details of the number of poles used by the said cable network in each village were also mentioned in the report. This checking was done in the presence of one Mr.Daljit Singh, Helper of the complainant, who put his signatures on the said inspection report in token of having accepted the report as correct. Thereafter, a notice No.681 dated 5.5.208 (Ex.R-II) was issued to the complainant through which an amount of Rs.69,000/- was raised on account of use of electric poles for supporting the cable network. The opposite parties have also proved on record the Commercial Circular No.39/2002 according to which the cable network operators using the poles for their network were to be charged @ 300/- per pole per annum. Since the complainant failed to pay the amount, this amount was added in the bill of account No.K55KE620816F running in the name of the complainant, being the sole proprietor of Prime Cable Network. The contention of the complainant that he was not running the cable network because his licence had already expired is not tenable because the cable, meant for the network, was found affixed on the electric poles at the time of inspection made by the officer of the opposite parties in the presence of the representative of the complainant, who remained present throughout the inspection and identified the poles used for the said cable network. Hence, the complainant is liable to make the payment of the charges, levied as per Commercial Circular No.39/2002, for using the electric poles of the opposite parties without their permission.
9. In view of the above discussion and findings, the appeal filed by the appellant/complainant is dismissed and the impugned order of the District Forum is affirmed and upheld. No order as to costs.
10. The arguments in the case were heard on 25.3.2014 and the order was reserved. Now, the order be communicated to the parties.
11. The appeal could not be decided within the statutory period because of the heavy pendency of the court cases.