National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission

National Disputes Redressal Commission (NCDRC): C. Viswanath (Presiding Member) addressed an issue wherein an allottee after the purchase of the Shed could not get electricity connected due to pending dues of the previous allottee.

The instant revision was filed against the Order passed by the State Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission, Gujarat.

Complainant had applied for allotment of shed pursuant to the advertisement of OP 1. The Complainant paid an amount of Rs 1,76,000 towards the allotment of the shed as initial payment and was informed that he would get electricity connection from the Gujarat Electricity Board in due course.

Further, OP-3 informed the complainant that the previous allottee of the shed was due Rs 1,26,479 to the Gujarat Electricity Board towards electricity charges. The Complainant intimated OP-2 that dues were also pending towards municipal tax of Surat Municipal Corporation. OP 1 requested the Complainant to clear both the outstanding dues and issue clear title of the Shed.

On no action being taken by the OP 1 and 2, Complainant filed a complaint before the District Forum.

Following was the District Forum’s Order:

OP No.1 and OP No.2 herein jointly and /or severally should pay to the complainant in the present case, with reference to the industrial shed in question the amount of Rs.1,76,000/-(Rupees one lakh seventy-six thousand only) paid to the opponent along with simple interest at the rate of 9% per annum on the said amount from the date of complaint till its realization.

State Commission set aside the District Forum’s Order stating that it did not discuss the agreement for sale.

Analysis and Decision

Commission on going through the allotment letter and the agreement found that there was no express provision which mentioned that the purchaser of the premises had to pay the electricity dues of the previous allottee.

Therefore in the absence of there being any specific statutory provision or clause in the Sale Agreement, the allottee could not have been compelled to clear the dues of the previous allottee.

Hence, dues relating to electricity charges cannot be enforced against the next allottee.

Commission cited the Supreme Court decision in Haryana State Electricity Board v. Hamuman Rice Mills Dhanauri, Civil Appeal No. 6817 of 2010, decided on 20-08-2010, held that “electricity arrears do not constitute a charge over the property. Therefore in general law, a transferee of a premises cannot be made liable for the dues of the previous owner/ occupier. Where the statutory rules or terms and conditions of supply which are statutory in character, authorize the supplier of electricity, to demand from the purchaser of a property claiming re-connection or fresh connection of electricity, the arrears due by the previous owner/occupier in regard to supply of electricity to such premises, the supplier can recover the arrears from a purchaser.”

In view of the above discussion, State Commission’s Order was set aside and District Forum’s decision was upheld. [Madhuben Rameshchandra Shah v. Gujarat Industrial Development Corpn., 2021 SCC OnLine NCDRC 17, decided on 28-01-2021]

Advocates for the parties:

Petitioner: Varshal Pancholi, Advocate

Respondents: R1 and R1: Chirag M. Shroff, Advocate

Respondent 3: Jesal Wahi, Advocate

Respondent 4: Ex-parte

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