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Ms Bharat Rubber Re Generating Company Limited Through One of Its Directors Sri Manish Dhandhania Vs. Jharkhand Urja Vikash Nigam Limited Through Its Chairman and Ors - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
CourtJharkhand High Court
Decided On
AppellantMs Bharat Rubber Re Generating Company Limited Through One of Its Directors Sri Manish Dhandhania
RespondentJharkhand Urja Vikash Nigam Limited Through Its Chairman and Ors
.....  before   the   general   manager­cum­chief   engineer  (hereinafter referred to as general manager). on representation  of   the   appellant,   the   general   manager   passed   order   dated  22.01.2001   holding   that   the   supplementary   bill   issued   to   the  appellant was correct.   challenging the said order, the appellant  again came to this court in c.w.j.c. no. 1620 of 2001. during the  pendency   of   the   writ   petition   the   appellant   submitted   another  representation   on   04.05.2001,   on   which   the   general   manager  passed   order   dated   26.05.2001,   whereby   the   mistake   in  calculation   crept   in   the   supplementary   bill   was   corrected  .....

1      IN THE HIGH COURT OF JHARKHAND AT RANCHI L.P.A  No. 284 of 2015 M/s Bharat Rubber Re­generating Company Limited, a company  incorporated under the provisions of Companies Act, 1956, having  its works at Plot No. 4, M­I, Industrial Area, Gamharia, District­  Singhbhum   West   through   one   of   its   Directors   Sri   Manish  Dhandhania, son of Late Kanahaiya Lal Dhandhania, Resident of  ­4,   Middleton   Street,   P.O.   &   P.S.­   Shakespeare   Sharani,   District­  Kolkata (West Bengal)   ... … Appellant Versus    1.   Jharkhand   Urja   Vikash   Nigam   Limited   (Earlier   known   as  Jharkhand State Electricity Board), having its office at Engineers  Bhawan,   HEC,   Dhurwa,   Ranchi   through   its   Chairman,   Project  Bhawan, H.E.C., P.O. & P.S.­Dhurwa, District­ Ranchi 2.   General   Manager­cum­Chief   Engineer,   Singhbhum   Electric  Supply   Area,   Jharkhand   Urja   Vikash   Nigam   Limited   (Earlier  Jharkhand  State Electricity Board), Co­operative Bank Building,  P.O. & P.S.­ Bistupur, Jamshedpur, District­Singhbhum (East) 3. Electrical Superintending Engineer, Adityapur Electric Supply  Circle,   Jharkhand  Urja   Vikash  Nigam   Limited   (Jharkhand  State  Electricity   Board),   Vikash   Bhawan,   Adityapur,   P.O.   &   P.S.­  Adityapur, Jamshedpur, District­ East Singhbhum 4.   Electrical   Executive   Engineer   (Commercial   and   Revenue),  Singhbhum Electric Supply Area, Jharkhand Urja Vikash Nigam  Limited   (Earlier   Jharkhand   State   Electricity   Board),   Vikash  Bhawan, Adityapur, P.O. & P.S.­ Adityapur, Jamshedpur ...  … Respondents     ­­­­­ For the Appellant : Mr. M.S. Mittal, Sr. Advocate   Mr. Rahul Lamba, Advocate   Mr. Naveen Kumar, Advocate   Mr. Saurabh Srirup, Advocate      For the Respondent­ JUVNL : Mr. Ajit Kumar, Sr. S.C.              Mr. Navin Kumar, Advocate      Mr. Amit Sinha, Advocate                         ­­­­­­ CORAM: HON’BLE MR. JUSTICE VIRENDER SINGH, CHIEF JUSTICE          HON’BLE MR. JUSTICE SHREE CHANDRASHEKHAR   ­­­­­ th  11/ Dated : 6       September, 2016     Per Shree Chandrashekhar, J.     Aggrieved   of   dismissal   of   the   writ   petition,   the appellant­writ   petitioner   namely,   M/s   Bharat   Rubber Re­generating Company Limited has preferred the present Letters  2 Patent Appeal under Clause 10 of the Letters Patent of Patna High  Court (as adopted by High Court of Jharkhand).  2. This   case   has   a   chequered   history   of   litigation.   The  appellant­Company,   a   medium­scale   industry   engaged   in   the  manufacture  of reclaimed rubber, took electric connection  on  a  contract   demand   of   500   KVA   in   the   year   1974,   which   was  enhanced to 800 KVA in June, 1985. On 11.07.1995, an electronic  meter   was   installed   in   the   factory   premises   of   the appellant­Company and on 25.04.1996, a Committee of officials  of the then Bihar State Electricity Board visited there for changing  the software in the meter, when no current was found running in  R­phase.   The   line   current   0.049  A   in   R­phase   and   line   current  38.515 A in B­phase were recorded. The software was changed  still, no current was flowing through R­phase and the fault still  existed.   Then   it   was   found   that   11   K.V.   A.B   switch   in   the  consumer's premises before the metering unit was direct which  made   the   system   inoperative.   On   26.04.1996,   the   Committee  again   visited   the   premises   and   inspected   CTPT   combined  metering unit and it was found that the incoming jumper of the  metering unit of R­phase had snapped and melted with outgoing  jumper of the metering unit of the same phase.   Photographs of  the site were taken and a First Information Report was lodged by  the   Board   for   pilferage   and   theft   of   electricity.   The   electricity  connection   at   appellant's   factory   premises   was   disconnected.  During   the   investigation   the   metering   unit   was   sent   for  3 examination   to   the   National   Metallurgical   Laboratory   which  submitted its report on 19.02.1997.   A bill for Rs. 2,70,04,604/­  as   supplementary   bill   under   1993   Tariff   was   issued   to   the  appellant.

3. Aggrieved,  the  appellant­Company came  to  the   High  Court in C.W.J.C. No. 1536 of 1996(R), which was disposed of on  21.05.1996   permitting   the   appellant   to   submit   a   detailed  representation   before   the   General   Manager­cum­Chief   Engineer  (hereinafter referred to as General Manager). On representation  of   the   appellant,   the   General   Manager   passed   order   dated  22.01.2001   holding   that   the   supplementary   bill   issued   to   the  appellant was correct.   Challenging the said order, the appellant  again came to this Court in C.W.J.C. No. 1620 of 2001. During the  pendency   of   the   writ   petition   the   appellant   submitted   another  representation   on   04.05.2001,   on   which   the   General   Manager  passed   order   dated   26.05.2001,   whereby   the   mistake   in  calculation   crept   in   the   supplementary   bill   was   corrected   and  subsequently,   a   fresh   bill   for   Rs.   86,91,746/­   was   raised   on  19.03.2002.   4. Still   dissatisfied,   the   appellant   filed   an   application  seeking amendment in C.W.J.C. No. 1620 of 2001 for impugning  the   aforesaid   bill   dated   19.03.2002.     The   writ   petition   was  allowed vide order dated 12.04.2002, remitting the matter to the  General   Manager   for   taking   a   fresh   decision   in   the   matter.  Consequently,   the   parties   were   heard   by   the   General   Manager,  4 who  returned  a  finding  that   the   wire   had disconnected due  to  snapping and not welding and perhaps the consumer had no hand  in it.  The appellant was directed to pay loss to the Board for four  days. Seriously disputing the findings in order dated 08.05.2002  of   the   General   Manager,   the   respondent­Electricity   Board  approached   this   Court   in   W.P.(C)   No.   2197   of   2003.     Besides  challenging the jurisdiction of the Superintending Engineer who  was   functioning   as   In­charge   General   Manager­cum­Chief  Engineer to pass the impugned order dated 08.05.2002, the said  order was challenged also on the ground that it was solely based  on the report of the National Metallurgical Laboratory. The writ  petition   was   allowed   on   16.01.2009,   against   which   a   Letters  Patent   Appeal   being   LPA   No.   89   of   2009   was   filed   by   the  appellant­consumer which was finally dismissed as withdrawn on  25.05.2009. Pursuant to direction of the High Court, before the  General   Manager   the   parties   appeared   and   filed   their   written  submissions.   It   is   the   final   decision   dated   01.07.2010   of   the  General Manager which was challenged before the Writ Court in  W.P.(C) No. 294 of 2011.   5.  Heard.

6. Challenging the finding of the General Manager that,  “the consumer was indulging in malpractice and theft of energy as  covered   under   Clause   16.9(A)   of   the   Tariff   1993”, Mr.   M.S.   Mittal,   the   learned   Senior   Counsel   for   the   appellant  submits that the aforesaid finding is not supported by any reason,  5 however,   the   learned   Single   Judge   mechanically   dismissed   the  Writ Petition.  It is contended that once it has been found that the  wire had broken from insulator by localised heating and oxidation  and it was not disconnected by any machine, Clause 16.9(A) of  1993 Tariff is not attracted in the facts of the case.  7. The main thrust of the argument of Mr. M.S. Mittal,  the learned Senior Counsel is on applicability of Clause 16.9(A) of  1993 Tariff.  We find that the report of site inspection conducted  on   25.04.1996   and   26.04.1996   discloses   that   disconnection   of R­phase   would   result   in   tamper   was   the   manufacturer's   view.  Considering the seriousness of the matter, photographs were also  taken and a First Information Report for theft of electricity was  lodged.    The plea taken by the appellant was that snapping of  incoming jumper of the metering unit of R­phase was accidental.  Order dated 21.05.1996 passed in C.W.J.C. No. 1536 of 1996(R)  records that  the  factual dispute can be set at rest by the Chief  Engineer (who holds the post of General Manager also), who has  requisite   technical   expertise   and   who   can   decide   the   dispute  whether   it   was   a   case   of   pilferage   of   electricity     or   not.     The  General   Manager,   after hearing  the  appellant, rejected the  plea  that   snapping   of   wire   was   an   Act   of   God.   The   subsequent  proceedings taken before the Writ Court would disclose that the  matter  was  examined by  the  General Manager atleast  on  three  occasions and it was held that the appellant is liable to pay loss to  the Board in terms of Clause 16.9(A).  6 8. Laying great stress on the distinction between judicial  review   of   administrative   decisions   and   a   decision   whether  necessary ingredients to attract Clause 16.9(A) of 1993 Tariff are  present or not, the learned Senior Counsel assailed the impugned  order dated 27.03.2015 passed in W.P.(C) No. 294 of 2011 on the  ground that if a statutory authority comes to a wrong conclusion,  the   said   decision   is   open   to   challenge   in   a   proceeding   under  Article 226 of the Constitution.  At one stage the learned Senior  Counsel tried to contend that all the three conditions contained  under Clause 16.9(A) (i) for assessment of compensation are not  established in this case and while so, the penal bill assessed on the  basis of the formula, that is, (L x F x H x D) is patently wrong.  9. By Virtue of the powers conferred under Section 49 of  the   Electricity   (Supply)   Act,   1948,   the   Bihar   State   Electricity  Board,   with   the   approval   of   the   State   Government,   framed   its  revised   Tariff   which   was   published   in   the   Bihar   Gazette,  Extraordinary on 23.06.1993.  The appellant's case has been dealt  with under Clause 16.9 (A) of 1993 Tariff, which reads as under :

16. 9. (A) Detection of unauthorised load :- If at any time the consumer is found exceeding the contracted load without specific permission of the Board, the Board may, without prejudice to its other rights under the agreement or under the provisions of the Electricity Act, estimate the value of the electrical energy, so extracted, consumed or used shall be calculated as below and may also disconnect the supply without notice :- i. Necessary assessment for 7 compensation in the following malpractice and theft of energy cases shall be made as below :- (a) In cases of use of energy through artificial means or by adopting any appliance. (b) in case of using energy by creating obstruction in running of meters or interfering with the system of supply or wires etc. (c) In case of dishonest abstraction of electrical energy or running of energy when supply is disconnected. Unit assessed - LxFxHxD where L = is the connected load in KW H = is the average no. of hours per day if supply is made available in the distribution mains, feeding the consumer. D = is the no. of days for which the pilferage took place which can be established from production of satisfactory evidence by the consumer. In case there is no possible evidence to establish the period, this factor be taken equivalent to 180 or the no. of days elapsed from the date of connection/ installation of meter till the date of detection of the pilferage whichever is less. F = Denotes the factors for the categories noted below :- (i) For domestic F=0.20 (ii) For Commercial F=0.40 (iii) For Small & Medium F=0.50 (Upto 75 KW) (iv) For Large & Heavy F=0.75 (with load above 75 KW) NOTE : In case of large and Heavy Power consumers for the purpose of assessment, the demand for the month shall be taken as contracted demand of the consumer or 75 per cent of the connected load, at the time of inspection, whichever is higher. ii. Pilferage of energy detected during marriage 8 & other occasions for temporary connection :- Unit assessed = LxDxH L = is the connected load in KW H = is the average no. of hours per day the supply is made available in distribution mains feeding the consumer. D = No. of days for which supply availed. iii. Method of charging the assessed units as indicated in para i & ii above. (a) The consumption so assessed shall be charged at thrice the rate per unit of the Tariff applicable to the consumer excluding the consumption recorded by the meter and the latter shall be charged at the appropriate tariff rates. The amount billed at this rate (thrice the tariff rate) shall not be taken into consideration for the purpose of computing consumer's liability to pay monthly/ minimum guarantee. (b) In case of consumer covered under categories of small power for P.T.W./Pumping sets for irrigation purposes, small & medium power for industries and commercial loads and temporary supply, the excess load over and above the contracted load shall be chargeable at triple the rate of flat rate/ M.C.G. of the appropriate tariff. iv. When connected load is more than the sanctioned load in case of all categories LT connection except Domestic Service. Assessment charge :- Rs. C x M (LD - LS) x 3 Where, M = Minimum consumption guarantee charge per BHP per month as applicable in the tariff schedule. LD = is the load detected in BHP at the time of inspection LS = is the load sanctioned to the consumer in 9 BHP. C = This factor be taken equivalent to six months or no. of months or part thereof elapsed from the date of connection/installation whichever is less. 10.  The expression “the following malpractice and theft of  energy cases” used in Clause 16.9(A) makes it abundantly clear  that in any one of the three situations contemplated thereunder  viz.,   (i)   cases   of   use   of   energy   through   artificial   means   or   by  adopting  any  appliance, (ii)  cases  of use  of  energy  by creating  obstruction   in   line   of   meters   or   interfering   with   the   system   of  supply   or   wires  etc.  and,  (iii)  cases  of   dishonest  abstraction  of  electrical   energy   or   running   of   energy   when   supply   is  disconnected,   penal   bills   for   assessing   the   loss   caused   to   the  respondent­Nigam   can   be   raised.   On   this   aspect,   report   of   the  National   Metallurgical   Laboratory,   Jamshedpur   has   also   been  considered by the General Manager in its order dated 01.07.2010.  The observations in the report dated 19.02.1997 are as under:  5(1) The copper wire got broken because of a loose connection at the insulator; loose connection caused heating. This has not happened instantly, rather happened over a period of time (i.e. it took place rather slowly). (2) After observing the stud, it was concluded that a continuous heating has raised the temperature which increased the rate of oxidation of the copper wire, and stud. (3) Copper wire got broken because of thinner size and also being under tensile stresses. (4) It is also noticed that the wire is not cut by any 10 mechanism, it is only broken from the insulator by localized heating and oxidation. Tensile stresses, also aggravated the above situation. (5) It can be said that when the above process was taking place, the current was flowing through the conductor. This conclusion was arrived at after carefully observing the molten end of the copper wire. (6) The wire became thinner at the molten end and the molten metal formed a bubble which indicates that there was current flow while wire got broken. (7) However, based on the observations done at NML, it cannot be concluded that the wire after breaking has fallen upon the side wire. This aspect is beyond our scope of investigation. Based on the above observations, it is concluded that the break-down took place on its own (because of loose connection) and it is not a sabotage case.   11. The   General   Manager   in   its   order   dated   01.07.2010  refused to accept the plea of the appellant that the breakdown  took place because of loose connection, which was accidental and  an   Act   of   God.   The   General   Manager   has   observed   that   the  connection   of   incoming   jumper   with   outgoing   jumper,   after  breaking,   would   not   have   been   possible   without   bending   of  outgoing   jumper,   and   incoming   jumper   on   top   being   vertical  cannot   fall   on   outgoing   jumper   which   was   horizontally   at 90 degree.   The report of the National Metallurgical Laboratory  also   discloses   that   it   cannot   be   concluded   that   the   wire   after  breaking fell upon the side wall. The General Manager has further  noticed that not only the primary side connections of incoming  and outgoing jumpers were existing prior to 11.07.1995 when the  11 electronic meter was installed, no ring around nut of incoming  stud  was visible in the photograph, which should have been there  had   the   conductor   broken   due   to   heat   produced   by   loose  connection. It is the case pleaded by the respondents that seal bit  of   secondary   terminal   of   CTPT   unit   was   tampered   and   the  tampering of seal bit was repeated for sorting CT.  The report of  the National Metallurgical Laboratory is only an opinion and it  cannot conclusively decide the issue involved in the case. In the  aforesaid facts, the conclusion of the General Manager that the  consumer indulged in malpractice and theft of energy does not  appear to be erroneous.   12. We may profitably remind ourselves that, normally, in  the matters involving complex technical issues High Court should  be slow to interfere with the decision of the experts unless, it is  shown that some important evidence has been overlooked or legal  provisions   involved   therein   have   been   misinterpreted   or  misapplied.     It   is   not   in   doubt   that   the   General   Manager   who  primarily  is the Chief Engineer, would have necessary technical  knowledge, and it has scientifically dealt with issue cropped up in  this case. The case in hand does not fall under any of the category  of cases warranting judicial review of the decision taken by the  General   Manager.   On   admitted   facts,   the   decision   dated  01.07.2010 of the General Manager turns out to be a forbidden  territory for judicial review.     13. Mr.  Ajit  Kumar, the  learned Senior Standing Counsel  12 appearing for Jharkhand Urja Vikash Nigam Limited (previously  Jharkhand   State   Electricity   Board)   contended   that   the   issue  sought to be raised by the appellant is concluded by the decision  of Supreme Court  in “JMD Alloys Limited Vs. Bihar State Electricity   Board” (2003) 5 SCC 226.  In “JMD Alloys” case, though the facts  are   slightly   different,   the   decision   of   Supreme   Court   not   to  interfere in the matter when opportunity of hearing is afforded to  the consumer and the authority took into consideration relevant  factors and the findings recorded by it were borne out from the  materials available on record, is squarely attracted in the present  case.   Order   dated   01.07.2010   discloses   that   the   consumer   was  heard at length and, in fact, it is not the grievance of the appellant  that order dated 01.07.2010 does not reflect its plea raised before  the  General Manager.   The  appellant  has failed to demonstrate  that the findings recorded by the learned Writ Court, “I find that  the   petitioner   was given   ample   opportunity  of  hearing and the  General   Manager­cum­Chief   Engineer,   Jamshedpur   had  considered all the relevant materials produced by the parties and  then   come   to   the   conclusion   that   the   petitioner   indulged   in  malpractice and theft of electricity, therefore, liable to pay penal  bill as per the provisions contained under Clause 16.9(A) of the  Tariff of 1993”, are not borne out from the materials on record.  The   contention   that   the   General   Manager   in   its   order   dated  01.07.2010 has merely concluded that the consumer had indulged  in malpractice and theft of energy is not supported by reasons, in  13 view   of   the   detailed   discussion   and   the   scientific   approach  reflected in the said order, is liable to be rejected. The fact that the  police submitted a Final Form in the criminal case registered for  theft of electricity is also of no consequence inasmuch as, it is not  imperative   that   for   calculating   loss   caused   to   the respondent­Board   (now   Nigam)   under   Clause   16.9(A),   the  criminal   case   registered   for   theft   of   electricity   must   result   in  conviction of the consumer.  The learned Senior Standing Counsel  appearing  for the respondents has rightly  contended that order  dated 01.07.2010 of the General Manager impugned before the  Writ Court is reasoned one and the findings recorded in earlier  proceedings which have become final and not challenged by the  appellant­Company cannot be agitated, as if the entire issue was  open before the Writ Court once again.

14. Having  considered the materials available on record,  we find no infirmity in the impugned order dated 27.03.2015 of  the Writ Court.  The Writ Court has noticed all relevant facts and  upon   consideration   of   all   relevant   factors,   rightly   refused   to  interfere with the order passed by the General Manager.  15. In the result, the instant Letters Patent Appeal, devoid  of any merit, is dismissed.             (Virender Singh, C.J.)                                (Shree Chandrashekhar,J.)   Manish/A.F.R.

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