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Damodar Valley Corporation v/s Bharat Hi Tech (Cements) Pvt. Ltd. & Others

    Revision Petition No. 462 of 2021
    Decided On, 09 August 2021
    At, National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission NCDRC
    By, MEMBER
    For the Petitioner: Maninder Acharya, Sr. Advocate, Madhumita Bhattacharjee, Advocate. For the Respondents: Sanjoy Kr. Ghosh, Rupali S. Ghosh, Advocates.

Judgment Text

Taken up through video conferencing.

1. Heard the learned senior counsel / learned counsel for the two sides. Perused the material on record.

2. This revision petition has been preferred under Section 21(b) of the Act 1986 (corresponding Section 58(1)(b) of the Act 2019), impugning the Order dated 10.03.2021 of the State Commission in I.A. No. 135 of 2021 in F.A. No. 371 of 2013. The said Order reads as below:

Heard the Ld. Advocate for the Appellant regarding IA/135/2021. None appears on behalf of Respondent. Perused the order dated 04.01.2019 as well as letter dated 24.02.2021 of Ld. Advocate of Respondent.

In view of the observation made in earlier order disconnection notice dated 28.01.2021 be stayed till disposal of the Appeal. Barring disputed arrear bills, current electricity bills be paid in regular course.

Thus, IA is disposed of. To date for hearing.

The appeal is pending adjudication before the State Commission since 2013; the interim Order of the State Commission, impugned herein, has been passed in 2021.

It is germane to note that the ideal normative period for disposing of an appeal is 90 days of its admission [Section 19A of the Act 1986 (corresponding Section 52 of the Act 2019)].

2. The learned counsel appearing for the revisionist corporation has assailed the legitimacy of the impugned Order of 10.03.2021.

One of the main contentions raised on the revisionist's behalf is that even though the complaint filed by the respondent complainant was dismissed by the District Commission vide its Order dated 04.03.2013 ("- - - Ordered: That the Consumer Complaint No. 35 of 2009 be and the same is dismissed on content without cost. - - -" ), the State Commission passed an anomalous Order at the time of admitting the appeal on 19.04.2013 whereby it stayed the operation of the Order of the District Commission ("- - - interim stay of operation of the impugned order as prayed for is granted till the next date fixed below. - - -"). The submission is that when the complaint had already been dismissed and nothing remained to be acted upon, there was hardly any question or justification for the State Commission to pass an order to stay the operation of the District Commission's Order.

Further contention is that during the course of hearing of the appeal, interlocutory applications have been filed on behalf of complainant company and the State Commission has been passing a number of interim orders, including the Order impugned herein, whereby it has been staying the payment of electricity bills of huge amounts and which also include bills relating to the period subsequent to the filing of the complaint; and the State Commission has been concurrently staying the various notices for disconnection of the electricity supply.

The contention is that in such a manner the complainant company has not been paying its bills fully even though it is consuming electricity since a long period of time, resulting in continued staggering losses to the revisionist corporation.

Another contention is that the complainant is a private limited company engaged in the business of manufacturing cement and is not 'consumer' within the meaning of Section 2(1)(d) of the Act 1986 (corresponding Section 2(7) of the Act 2019).

3. Learned counsel appearing for the respondent company has tried to rebut the submissions, contending that the bills that have been raised are disputed and therefore there is nothing wrong if the State Commission has proceeded to stay the payment of the bills or has stayed the steps towards disconnection.

4. We have perused the record and do not feel very satisfied with the way in which the proceedings have been going on at the level of the State Commission and also feel concerned about the drawn out period of about 08 years that has already elapsed in the proceedings especially when the ideal normative period of deciding an appeal is 03 months.

5. It is too obvious that the initial Order passed by the District Commission on 04.03.2013 was in the nature of dismissal of the complaint on content but by way of filing interlocutory applications during the course of the hearing of the appeal in the State Commission substantial part of payment for consumption of electricity has been successfully kept stayed for a prolonged period of time by the complainant company.

6. Be that as it may, we do not propose to enter into the correctness or otherwise of the interim orders passed by the State Commission at this stage, as it may lead to observations having bearing on the final adjudication of the merits of the appeal itself and might cause detrimental prejudice to either side.

7. We therefore deem it appropriate to dispose of this revision petition by making the direction that the matter be adjudicated with dispatch by the State Commission by hearing it on a day-to-day basis till its final conclusion. We also request the State Commission to bring this matter to its logical culmination preferably within a period of one month from today.

8. We further find it appropriate and necessary to direct that if the matter does not get concluded within a period of one month from today for no fault attributable to the revisionist corporation, 50% of the amount which is said to be due on the complainant company, the payment of which has been stayed by the State Commission vide its impugned Order of 10.03.2021, shall be deposited by the complainant company with the State Commission within one week of the expi

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ry of the one month period from today, failing which the interim relief provided by the State Commission vide its said Order of 10.03.2021 shall stand vacated. Needless to add, in such contingency too, the State Commission shall continue to hear the matter on a day-to day-basis (even beyond the period of one month from today) and shall conclude it at the very earliest. 9. The Registry is requested to send a copy each of this Order to all the parties in the petition and to their learned counsel within three days. The stenographer is requested to upload this Order on the website of this Commission immediately.