1. This appeal has been preferred by the original defendant Maharashtra State Electricity Board challenging the decree passed by the two courts below directing the defendant to restore the electricity supply to the plaintiff and to pay an amount of Rs. 500/- towards damages.
2. The facts are not much in dispute. The plaintiff is a consumer of electric energy for irrigating his field by pumping the well water with the aid of electric motor in his land bearing Survey No. 31 of village Vadanage in Karvir taluka of Kolhapur District. The plaintiff and defendant had entered into an agreement (Exh. 62) on February 10, 1965 by which defendant agreed to supply electric energy. The agreement was to remain in force till December 31, 1967, and was to continue from year to year in future if not terminated. It is not in dispute that the plaintiff paid to the defendant the service charges initially as per the bill of the defendant (Exh. 40). The plaintiff also deposited an amount of Rs. 150/- as security deposit under receipt (Exh. 42) and the plaintiff was entitled to interest on the deposit. It appears that the plaintiff was irregular in making payments of electricity consumed by him and thereupon defendant Board served a notice (Exh. 37) on the plaintiff calling upon him to deposit an additional amount of Rs. 100/- as security for supply of electric power. The defendant replied the notice on September 30, 1967 by Exh. 94 and pointed out that he had already deposited the security amount as required by an agreement and it is not open for the Board to demand any additional amount and to threaten the defendant that on failure to deposit such an amount the electric supply will be cut. In spite of this reply on October 6, 1967 the Board cut the supply to the plaintiff and that has given rise to the filing of the present suit on December 4, 1967 in the court of the Third Joint Civil Judge, Junior Division, Kolhapur. The grievance of the plaintiff is that the defendant Board had no authority or a right to demand additional security either under the agreement or under the provisions of the Electricity Act.
3. The suit was resisted by the defendant Board contending that the defendant was entitled both under the agreement and under the provisions of statute to demand additional amount of deposit from the plaintiff as the plaintiff was irregular in clearing of his bills. On the strength of these pleadings, trial Judge framed requisite issues and after recording the evidence came to the conclusion that the defendant-Board had no authority both under the agreement and under the provisions of the Indian Electricity Act to claim additional amount of security. On the strength of this finding, the trial Judge decreed the claim of the plaintiff for mandatory injunction directing the defendant-Board to restore the electric supply forthwith. The trial Judge determined the amount of damages at Rs. 500/- and directed the defendant to pay the said amount to the plaintiff. The defendant carried an appeal before the District Court, Kolhapur but the learned District Judge by his judgment, dated September 3, 1971 dismissed the appeal concurring with each and every finding recorded by the trial court. The present second appeal is preferred to challenge that decree.
4. Mr. Dalvi, the learned counsel appearing on behalf of the appellant, in support of this appeal contended that the view taken by the two courts below that the defendant-Board had no authority to demand additional amount of security is erroneous. Mr. Dalvi submits that under an agreement (Exh. 62) it was open for the Board to call upon the plaintiff to deposit additional amount of security in view of the fact that the plaintiff was irregular in making payments of his bills. It is not possible to accept the submission. The agreement itself provided for security deposit of Rs. 150/- and it is not in dispute that the plaintiff had deposited that amount under the receipt (Exh. 42) with the defendant. It is equally not in dispute that the plaintiff was entitled to earn interest on the said security deposit and the admission of the Assistant Engineer of the defendant-Board that the plaintiff was not in arrears of any bill and the deposit of Rs. 150/- kept with the Board was intact is sufficient to reject the submission of the learned counsel. As the amount of security deposit made earlier was intact and was not used for the purpose of payment of bills found in arrears, it is difficult to imagine how the agreement enables the Board to demand additional amount of security deposit from its consumer. In my judgment, both the courts below were right in holding that the agreement does not assist the defendant in claiming additional amount.
5, Mr. Dalvi then contended that in view of the provisions of Section 24 of the Indian Electricity Act, 1910, the Board is entitled to recover from the licensee any sum other than a charge for energy due from him and on failure of the licensee is entitled to disconnect the electric supply. It is not possible to accept this submission also, The provisions of Section 24 of the Indian Electricity Act do enable the Electricity Board to disconnect the supply in cases where any consumer neglects to pay any charge for energy or any sum other than a charge for energy due from him to a licensee in respect of supply of energy to him. The crucial word of this section is 'due' from him to a licensee. Now it is not the case of the Board that the plaintiff has neglected to pay any charge for the energy and on that count the electricity supply was disconnected. Mr. Dalvi relies upon the provisions of this section to contend that even any sum other than a charge for energy is due then it is open for the Board to disconnect supply. The learned counsel while making the submission clearly overlooks the word 'due'. In my judgment, by no stretch of imagination, it can be said that additional amount of security deposit wrongly claimed by the Board was due from the licensee. If the amount claimed by the Board was not due then obviously Mr. Dalvi's client cannot resort to the provisions of Section 24 of the Indian Electricity Act and disconnected the energy supplied to the plaintiff. The submission of the learned counsel in these circumstances must be repelled.
6. In the result, the appeal fails and is dismissed with costs.
7. Appeal dismissed