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Raj Kamal Spinners Vs. Punjab State Electricity Board and anr. - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectElectricity
CourtPunjab and Haryana High Court
Decided On
Case NumberCivil Writ Petn. No. 5797 of 1975
Judge
Reported inAIR1983P& H378
ActsElectricity (Supply) Act, 1948 - Sections 49 and 79
AppellantRaj Kamal Spinners
RespondentPunjab State Electricity Board and anr.
Cases ReferredIndian Aluminium Company v. Kerala State Electricity Board.
Excerpt:
.....p-7) on sept, 16. 1975, for rs, 20343.60 to be paid within fifteen days from the date of the notice. further i find that the respondent board is well within its right to specify the rates or tariffs for the unauthorised consumption of electricity in terms of s......this, the stand of the board is that the above noted circular. annexure p-9 providing for penal rates for unauthorised consumption of electricity has been issued in exercise of its powers under s. 49 of the electricity (supply) act. 1948. having herd the learned counsel for the parties. i find that though the non-action on the part of the respondent board from august 10, 1973 when the petitioner applied for the extra load to the date of the inspection of the premises. that is, march 12, 1975, deserves no deprecated as it virtually borders on harassment of the petitioner particularly in the light of the communication, annexure p-1, of its capacity to release extra power and asking for the consent an willingness of the petitioner to avail of the connection applied for yet this petition.....
Judgment:
ORDER

1. In the year 1973, the petitioner concern was sanctioned an electric load of 20 H. P. for running its 1200 spinddles for manufacturing worsted yarn in its mill at Chheharta. Amritsar, On August 10, 1973, it made an application for extension of this load by 100 H. P. It also deposited the requisite security amount of Rs. 4910/- In response to its application, the petitioner was asked vide Annexure P. 1. To express its willingness to avail of the enhanced load. This was communicated by the petitioner vide Annexure P. 2 on Sept. 7, 1973. Later a test report was also submitted by it on Sept. 12, 1973. Since the respondent Board failed to sanction or provide the extra load demanded by the petitioner it served a notice (Annexure P. 4) on April, 18, 1974. Asking the Board to release the extra load at the earliest. This notice of the petitioner remained unreplied.

2. On March, 12, 975. petitioner's premises were inspected by the Sub-Divisional Officer. Flying Squad, who detected that the petitioner had connected an unauthorised load of 18.69 K. v. To the existing connection and as a result thereof a letter was addressed to the petitioner on March 20, 1975. To disconnect the extended laid and to furnish the details of the additional motor load duly authenticated by purchase vouchers. Copy of this letter is Annexure P. 6 The petitioner claims to have submitted the documents with regard to the purchase of additional 15 H. P. motor on Jan. 17. 1975, and also explained therein that during the period of consumption of the extra load. Its 12 H. P. humidification plant was not in use on account of winter season. Not satisfied with this explanation of the petitioner, the Executive Engineer of the Board sent a demand notice (Annexure P-7) on Sept, 16. 1975, for RS, 20343.60 to be paid within fifteen days from the date of the notice. The details given in this letter were that besides the consumption charges of the unauthorised load, this amount included Rs. 8137.44 as additional charges (penalty) in pursuance of circular No. 43597/4407/TT.P.-90-F.R. dt. June 3. 1974(Annexure P-9). This additional demand was also repeated in the bills for Dept., 1975. Requiring the petitioner to pay the same before Sept. 30, 1975.

3. The petitioner now impugns this demand primarily on the ground that the respondent Board has no jurisdiction or authority to impose any penalty for the unauthorised use or consumption of electricity over and above the sanctioned load for the reason that the Board cannot unilaterally prescribe a different tariff or rate than what has been stipulated by the agreement (Annexure A-3) entered into between the parties nor does any provision of the statute or regulations framed thereunder authorise the Board to impose any such penalty. As against this, the stand of the Board is that the above noted circular. Annexure P-9 providing for penal rates for unauthorised consumption of electricity has been issued in exercise of its powers under S. 49 of the Electricity (Supply) Act. 1948. Having herd the learned counsel for the parties. I find that though the non-action on the part of the respondent Board from August 10, 1973 when the petitioner applied for the extra load to the date of the inspection of the premises. That is, March 12, 1975, deserves no deprecated as it virtually borders on harassment of the petitioner particularly in the light of the communication, Annexure P-1, of its capacity to release extra power and asking for the consent an willingness of the petitioner to avail of the connection applied for yet this petition is devoid of any merit.

4. In support of its contention that the respondent Board cannot charged from the petitioner anything more than the stipulated rate or tariff in the agreement, Annexure P-3, primary reliance is placed by its learned counsel on Indian Aluminium Company v. Kerala State Electricity Board. AIR 1975 SC 1967(at p. 1980) wherein the following observations occur :--

'We do not think that the High Court was right in saying that by making regulating under S. 79(j) the Bard could confer upon itself power to unilaterally revise the rates for supply of electricity. S. 70(1) empowers the Board to make regulations not inconsistent with the Supply Act to provide for 'principles government the supply of electricity by the Board to persons other than the licenses under S. 49'. This power to make regulations must obviously be exercise consistently with the provisions of the Supply Act and the regulations made in exercise of this power cannot go beyond the Supply Act. If the power to enhance the rates unilaterally in derogation of the contractual stipulation does not reside in any provision of the Supply Act. it cannot be created by regulations made under the Supply Act. Either this power can be found in some provision of the Supply Act or it is not there at all. Regulations in the nature of subordinate legislation cannot confer authority on the Board to interfere with the contractual rights and obligations unless specified power to make such regulations is vested in the Board by some provision in the Statute. Expressly or by necessary implication. No such power is to be found in S. 79(j) or in any other provision of the Supply Act.'

These observations of their Lordships to my mind. Apply only where the consumer of electricity is consuming the sanctioned load or the authorised supply of he electricity.. Had the petitioner in the case in hand remained within the four corners of the on tract or agreement (Annexure R-3) entered into with the respondent Board. Then the latter could not charge a rate or tariff different than the one prescribed in that agreement. But since the petitioner itself started using the electricity without any authorisation or proper sanction for the enhanced load. It cannot possibly bind down the Board to the rates or tariffs specified in the agreement itself. If the consumers of electricity are to be given this much liberty that they can star using the electricity according to their needs in the absence of any sanction or authorisation for the same and the Board is to be bound down to charge only the prescribed rates or tariff irrespective of the fact whether the electricity consumption is authorised or un-authorised, then the same obviously is likely to lead to chaotic conditions,. If the Board is to be bound down to the rate specified in the agreement then there is no fun in requiring the consumers to ask for or seek prior permission for the sue or consumption of the electricity over and above the sanctioned load. Further I find that the respondent Board is well within its right to specify the rates or tariffs for the unauthorised consumption of electricity in terms of S. 49(3) which lays down that 'nothing in the foregoing provision of this section shall derogate from the power of the Board. If it considers It necessary or expedient to fix different tariffs for the supply of electricity to any person not being a licensee, having regard to .........the nature of the supply any purpose for which supply is required and any other relevant factors'. This provision to my mind is of wide amplitude which authorises the Board to lay down the tariffs or the rates for extra or unauthorised use of electricity Besides all this, there being no challenge to the validity or vires of circular. Annexure P-9, the petitioner concern cannot possibly make out a case that the demand created against it is against any authority of law. As per S. 49 of the Act, the Board is competent to lay down the terms and conditions for the supply of electricity and to charge uniform rates for the same. It is nobody's case here that circulars Annexure P-8 does not uniformly apply to everybody, that is unauthorised consumers of electricity.

5. For the reasons recorded above, this petition fails and is dismissed with costs which I determine at Rs. 300.

6. Petition dismissed.


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