Overloading includes “unauthorised use of electricity” under Electricity Act; Delhi High Court reiterates

delhi high court

Delhi High Court: A petition was filed under Article 226 of the Constitution of India assailing an order dated 02-05-2017 passed by the Electricity Consumer Grievances Redressal Forum, New Delhi on an application filed by New Delhi Municipal Council (NDMC) seeking payment of usage of electricity over the sanctioned amount. Prateek Jalan, J., sets aside the impugned order for being erroneously concluded. However, NDMC’s claim relates to the year 2015, therefore, instead of remanding the matter to the Forum at this stage, the writ petition is disposed of with the direction that NDMC may issue a provisional assessment order under Section 126(1) of the Act and thereafter follow the scheme of Section 126 to determine the liability of the respondent, if any.

The respondent is an electricity consumer of New Delhi Municipal Council (‘NDMC’) in respect of its premises who was granted a sanctioned load of 74.960 KW. However, an inspection was conducted and found that the respondent was using electricity to the extent of 112.537 KW. NDMC issued a show cause notice dated 28-07-2015 to the respondent, contending that unauthorised overloading of electric connection amounted to “unauthorised use of electricity” within the meaning of Section 126(6) of the Electricity Act, 2003. NDMC, therefore, purported to charge misuse charges as recoverable as per a formula under the Delhi Electricity Regulatory Commission [“DERC”] Regulations for the period of six months prior to the date of inspection.

The respondent replied to the show cause notice on 27-08-2015, after the lapse of the time granted in terms of the guidelines of the DERC. Misuse charges were therefore levied upon the respondent with effect from 15-01-2015 i.e., six months prior to the date of inspection. In terms of the request of the respondent, a second inspection was undertaken on 04-01-2016, when the connected load was found to be less than the sanctioned load. The misuse charges were therefore withdrawn to a limited extent with effect from 27-08-2015. However, NDMC continued to contend that the respondent was liable to make payment of misuse charges for the period 15-01-2015 to 26-08-2015.

The Court noted that Section 126 of the Electricity Act provides for an assessment on account of the unauthorised use of electricity. Placing reliance on Southern Electricity Supply Co. of Orissa Ltd. v. Sri Seetaram Rice Mill, (2012) 2 SCC 108, the Court observed that contrasting the provisions of Sections 126 and 135 of the Act which deals with the theft of electricity, the Court adopted a wider meaning of the term “unauthorised use of electricity” under Section 126 of the Act and held that this would include excessive use of electricity by the consumer, beyond the sanctioned load.

Thus, the Court held that the Forum has clearly erred in concluding that overloading does not come within the definition of “unauthorised use of electricity” under Electricity Act.

[New Delhi Municipal Council v Tewari House Hospitality Pvt Ltd., 2023 SCC OnLine Del 5767, decided on 14-09-2023]

Advocates who appeared in this case :

Mr. Nirvikar Verma, ASC for NDMC

Mr. Deepak Vohra, Mr. Nishant Gupta & Mr. Akash Tiwari, Advocates for respondents

Buy Constitution of India  HERE

Constitution of India

Must Watch

maintenance to second wife

bail in false pretext of marriage

right to procreate of convict

Criminology, Penology and Victimology book release

Join the discussion

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.