R.N. Misra, J.
1. Defendant-petitioner was a subscriber of a telephone receiver and ran into arrears of bills to the tune of Rs. 10,020. The Union of India has instituted a suit for recovery of the amount in the court of the learned Subordinate Judge at Sambalpur. Defendant challenged the maintainability of the suit relying upon the provision in Section 7-B of the Indian Telegraph Act and also relied upon a single Judge decision of this Court in the case of Nityananda Sahu v. Postmaster General, Orissa, Bhubaneswar, (1976) 42 Cut LT 1049 : (AIR 1977 Orissa 48). The learned Subordinate Judge took up the question of jurisdiction for determination preliminarily and has found against the defendant. This application is directed against the determination of the issue against her.
2. Section 7-B of the Telegraph Act, provides:--
'(1) Except as otherwise expressly provided in this Act, if any dispute concerning any telegraph line, appliance or apparatus arises between the telegraph authority and the person for whose benefit the line, appliance or apparatus is, or has been, provided, the dispute shall be determined by arbitration and shall, for the purposes of such determination, be referred to an arbitrator appointed by the Central Government either specially for the determination of that dispute or generally for the determination of disputes under this section.
(2) The award of the arbitrator appointed under Sub-section (1) shall be conclusive between the parties to the dispute and shall not be questioned in any court.'
Mr. Misra for the petitioner contends that the claim relating to arrears of bills is covered by the arbitration clause and, therefore, the suit was not maintainable.
3. In the reported decision it was conceded by counsel for parties that the dispute was one to which Section 7-B of the Act applied and, therefore, the ambit of Section 7-B of the Act was not considered. The dispute in the reported decision arose on account of disconnection of the telephone line for non-payment of arrears of bills and plaintiff had sued for damages on account of disconnection. In the instant case, the claim arises out of use of the telephone and non-payment of the bills for such use.
4. The legislative intention behind in-corporation of Section 7-B of the Act seems to be that disputes relating to telephone lines, appliances or apparatus between the subscriber and the telegraphs authority should be arbitrated upon and finality has been attached to the award. There is no dispute before me that the telephone set provided to the defendant as a subscriber is an apparatus within the meaning of Sub-section (1) of Section 7-B of the Act. Sub-section (1) is in wide terms and any dispute concerning the apparatus is covered by it. The bills in question related to the user of the apparatus. In the circumstances, I see no justification to accept the stand of learned Standing Counsel for the Union of- India that the dispute in question was not covered by Sub-section (1) of Section 7-B of the Act.
5. Sub-section (2) of Section 7-B clearly shows that the Civil Court's jurisdiction is ousted in regard to disputes covered by Sub-section (1). Since I have taken the view that the dispute in question is one which would come within the ambit of Section 7-B (1) of the Act, the Civil Court would have no jurisdiction to try the suit. The learned Subordinate Judge relied upon a single Judge decision of the Allahabad High Court in the case of Raghubar Dayal Manodia v. Union of India, AIR 1970 All 143. The Allahabad High Court was examining the matter under Article 226 of the Constitution and the observations made therein were with reference to the constitutional jurisdiction of the Court. I do not think, any support is available from that decision for disposing of the present dispute.
6. The order of the learned Subordinate Judge is accordingly set aside and I hold that the Civil Court has no jurisdiction to entertain the dispute. Plaintiff's suit must accordingly be held to be not maintainable. It would be open to the plaintiff to take action under Section 7-B (1) of the Act. Parties are directed to bear their own costs throughout.