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Mohta Industries Limited Vs. Punjab State Electricity Board and anr. - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectElectricity
CourtPunjab and Haryana High Court
Decided On
Case NumberCivil Revision No. 3663 of 1991
Judge
Reported in(1995)111PLR656
ActsElectricity Supplies Act, 1948; Code of Civil Procedure (CPC) - Sections 115
AppellantMohta Industries Limited
RespondentPunjab State Electricity Board and anr.
Appellant Advocate H.L. Sibal, Sr. Adv. and; Rita Kohli, Adv.
Respondent Advocate S.C. Goel and; Govind Goel, Advs.
Cases ReferredJ.K. Cotton Spinning and Weaving Mills Co. Ltd. v. State of Uttar Pradesh and Ors.
Excerpt:
- .....another called m.d.i, which indicates the maximum demand and the third meter is called a kvah meter which determines the power factor. it is the conceded case of the parties that as per section 52 of the electricity supplies act, 1948 (hereinafter called 'the act'), power factor has to be maintained at. 85 and above with permissible variations. it is nevertheless the conceded case that if these readings are not mentioned, no financial benefit accrues to the consumer, but it only affects the over-all working of the transmission system of electricity. on 21st october, 1987, the mobile meter testing squad of the respondent-board, visited the premises of the petitioner and tested the meter and found that kvah meter was running slow by 16.59%. on 6th november, 1987, a bill was,.....
Judgment:

H.S. Bedi, J.

1. A meter called a trivector meter was installed in the premises of the petitioner-company, which is a large scale consumer of electricity. A trivector meter as its very name suggests consists of three meters. A KWH meter which records the actual consumption of electricity another called M.D.I, which indicates the maximum demand and the third meter is called a KVAH meter which determines the power factor. It is the conceded case of the parties that as per Section 52 of the Electricity Supplies Act, 1948 (hereinafter called 'the Act'), power factor has to be maintained at. 85 and above with permissible variations. It is nevertheless the conceded case that if these readings are not mentioned, no financial benefit accrues to the consumer, but it only affects the over-all working of the transmission system of electricity. On 21st October, 1987, the Mobile Meter Testing Squad of the respondent-Board, visited the premises of the petitioner and tested the meter and found that KVAH meter was running slow by 16.59%. On 6th November, 1987, a bill was, accordingly, sent levying a power factor surcharge amounting to Rs. 3,01,247.48. The petitioner filed various suits praying that till such time, the Chief Electrical Inspector (CEI) decided the matter under Section 26(6) of the Act, the bills could not be raised by the Board. The trial court vide its order dated 22th February, 1989 Annexure P.1 to the petition, granted a conditional injunction stipulating that a bank guarantee be provided by the petitioner for the amounts claimed from it. Twenty two appeals were taken to the Addl. District Judge concerned, 11 by the petitioner and the others by the respondent-Board and on 16.9.1989, the appellant Court directed that an order for a bank guarantee could not be justified and that the amounts of the bills be paid. This order was challenged in this Court and on 25th January, 1990, a direction was issued by the Court that as the CEI was now seized of the matter, he should calculate the amounts due from the petitioner in terms of the rules and regulations. The C.E.I. accordingly, on 19.2.1990 visited the premises of the petitioner and after putting his own check meter, came to the conclusion that the KVAH meter was, in fact running slow by 14%. He accordingly directed the respondent-Board to replace the meter as well. The C.E.I. also submitted his report Annexure P4 to the petition on 7.5.1990 and the matter was once again brought before the High Court. On 22.5.1990 the High Court directed that the Board should replace the meter in question and the same was in fact replaced on 16.6.1990. The C.E.I. in the course of his report determined the amount due from the petitioner at Rs. 16,26,308/- and this amount was deposited by the petitioner alongwith interest at the rate of 12 per cent per annum as directed by the High Court. As per the liberty given by the High Court, objections were filed against Annexure P4 i.e. the report of the C.E.I. and the same were disposed off by the order impugned in the present proceedings. The trial Court vide its order dated 25.10.1991 recorded a finding that the case of the petitioner fell under Clauses 14(c) and (f) of the Abridged Conditions of supply but if the contention of the petitioner was to be accepted that the matter fell under Clause 14(j), thereof nothing would be due from them. The court also held that the report of the C.E.I. in so far as it determined that the KVAH meter was running slow (-14%) was in order, but the actual calculations made were contrary to the instructions on the subject and the C.E.I. had, in fact, given undue benefit to the petitioner. The court accordingly, held that the Board was entitled to claim compensation from the consumer taking the error of the meter at (-14%) and then to calculate the power factor accordingly and to issue a supplementary bill for the period from April, 1987 to June, 1990. Aggrieved, thereby, the petitioners have came up to this Court.

2. The primary argument of Mr. Sibal, counsel for the petitioner has been that the learned Sub Judge had given a positive finding that the matter under dispute fell within Clause 14(e) and (f) of the Abridged condition of supply and the petitioner's were, therefore, liable but if the petitioner's claim fell under Clause 14(j) of the Conditions of supply, nothing was due and that from a bare reading of Clause 14(j), it was evident that as far as the KVAH meter was concerned the dispute could be dealt with only under that provision and not under Clause 14(e) or (f). He also urged that under Section 26(5) of the Act, 1910, it was the duty of the Board to refer any dispute that may arise between the parties to the decision of the C.E.I. and as the meter issued by the Board to the petitioner did not indicate any variation in the power factor it was for the Board to raise such a dispute. In support of his assertions, Mr. Sibal, has placed reliance on J.K. Cotton Spinning and Weaving Mills Co. Ltd. v. State of Uttar Pradesh, AIR 1961 S.C. 1170, M/S Regal Theatre and Ors. v. M.P.E.O. Rampur, AIR 1987 P.M. 276 and M.P.E.B. and Ors. v. Smt. Basantibai, AIR 1988, Supreme Court 71.

3. As against this, Mr. Goel, counsel for respondent-Board has urged that the trial court was entirely right in recording that the case of the petitioner fell under Clauses 14(e) and (f) of the conditions of Supply and as Clause 14(j) could not be read in isolation, 14(j) would apply (as has been held by the trial Court) only in case where the meter was dead and not operating at all and not where the meter was operating though defectively. He has urged that as the correctness of the meter was disputed not by the Board but by the petitioner, it was for the petitioner to have gone to the C.E.I. in order to raise dispute and file an application before him.

4. The matter as would be seen would hinge substantially on the scope and ambit of Clauses 14(e), (f) and (j) of the conditions of Supply. They are reproduced for ready reference: -

14(e) Should the consumer dispute the accuracy of the said meter, he may upon giving notice in writing to the Board and paying in advance the prescribed fee as mentioned in the Schedule of General Charges, cause a test of the meter to be made by the Board, and if on such test being made the meter should prove to be not correct, as provided by the rules under the Act, the Board shall refund charges of such test and shall adjust the consumer's account, as may be required, with retrospective effect for a period not exceeding 6 months immediately preceding the date of such test or the date of removal of such meter for the purpose of test. Should the meter prove to be correct as prescribed by the Rules under the Act, the amount paid by the consumer for the test will stand forfeited.

(14-f) Should the Board, at any time, detect the meter at a consumer's premises to be out of order/incorrect, the Board shall cause a test of the said meter carried out, and should the meter prove to be not correct, the consumer's account will be adjusted, as described above in Sub clause (e). If, however, the meter happens to be consumer's own property, the consumer will pay to the Board, the expenses of the test.

(14-j) If KVAH meter becomes defective/removed for repair, the average of monthly average power factor of the consumer's installation recorded during the last three months before KVAH meter is found defective or so removed, should be taken as monthly average power factor for levy of power factor surcharge till such time KVAH meter is replaced.

5. From reading of Clause 14(e) it is clear that in case, the consumer disputes the accuracy of the meter, he can, after giving a notice in writing, cause a test of the meter to be made by the Board and if on such test, it is found that the meter is, in fact, defective a bill can be made for a period up to six months with retrospective effect considering the date of the test of the meter. A similar provision is made in favour of the Board in Clause (f) whereas, Clause (j) which specifically deals with a KVAH meter provides that in case such a meter becomes defective or removeable for repair, the last three months' average should be taken as monthly average power factor for levy of power factor surcharge till such time KVAH meter is replaced. It is to be seen from a reading of the aforesaid clauses that they all deal with defective meters which include meters which are running defectively or not running at all. Mr. Goel's attempt to argue that as far as Clause (14-j) was concerned, the meter was defective only if was found to be dead is on the face of it erroneous and the finding of the trial Court, therefore, that Clause 14(j) would apply only in case where the meter had been burnt out or was dead is to my mind, without any reason. The word defective would include either a dead meter or a meter which was inaccurate. There is yet another aspect to this matter. Once a special provision had been made with respect to the KVAH meter, in Clause 14(j), that would have the effect of excluding the other clauses by implication. Mr. Sibal has accordingly cited J.K. Cotton Spinning and Weaving Mills Co. Ltd. v. State of Uttar Pradesh and Ors., (supra) in this connection. This is what the Supreme Court had to say:

'The rule is that whenever there is a particular enactment and a general enactment in the same statute and the latter, taken in its most comprehensive sense, would overrule the former, the particular enactment must be taken to affect only the other parts of the statute to which it may properly apply.'

6. In the light of the observations of the Supreme Court, it is apparent that the judgments cited by Mr. Goel, do not advance his case. As is evident from Clauses 14(e), (f) and (j), the words 'defective', incorrect or not correct or out of order have been used inter changeably and that in case of a KVAH meter if Clause 14(j) was to be made applicable only in the case of a dead meter, that could very well have been specified in the Clause. It is also clear that prior to 1980, Clause 14(j) did not exist in the Conditions of Supply and it was vide Annexures P 8/A and P 8/B that this provision was incorporated in the regulations for the first time, the obvious conclusion being that this clause was meant to be applied specifically and exclusively in the case of defective KVAH meter alone.

7. It is undoubtedly true that the trial Court gave a categorical finding that in case Clause 14(j) was applied, nothing would be due from the petitioner. Mr. Goel, has, however, pointed out that there appeared to be some mistake in the report of the C.E.I. in the calculations that have been made. As this court does not have the necessary expertise to recalculate the amounts if any due from the petitioner, it is appropriate that the matter should be examined by the C.E.I. once again in the light of this judgment. It is, accordingly directed that the C.E.I. shall recalculate the amount, if any, due from the petitioner and shall apply Clause 14(j) of the Conditions of Supply taking the test date as 21.10.1987. It is also directed that the calculations would be made and supplied to the parties within a period of two weeks from the date that a copy of this order is supplied to the C.E.I. This petition stands disposed off accordingly.


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