S.D. Agarwal, Presiding Member.
1. The complainant has filed this appeal against the order dated 15.1.2008 passed in C.C. No. 146/2007 by the District Consumer Disputes Redressal Forum, Morena whereby his complaint has been partly allowed.
2. The facts of the case in brief as narrated by the complainant/appellant are that he for earning his livelihood running cold storage and for that he obtained an electricity connection of 100 HP on which there is no dues. It is alleged that earlier on taking excess amount on his electricity connection, he filed a complaint no. 08/2003 against the electricity company which was decided on 30.12.2003 in which it has been held that since the electricity company has wrongly taken meter rent from the complainant, therefore, the amount so taken be adjusted in future bills, but the electricity company is continuously issuing excess bills. It is alleged that since his connection is in Gram Panchayat area, therefore, tariff as applicable in Gram Panchayat will be applicable to his electricity connection whereas the respondent is raising bills as per tariff applicable to urban area. It is alleged that the appellant himself has purchased meter, therefore, the respondent electricity company is not entitled to realize meter rent from him. The respondent illegally realized Rs. 19,000/- additional as other charges in the bill of October-2005. So many complaints were made but no heed was paid. The respondent electricity company realized Rs. 1,96,116/- under the head of meter rent, other charges, difference of tariff rates and surcharge, illegally from the appellant, which has to be adjusted. He therefore filed a complaint alleging deficiency in service on the part of the respondent electricity company and claiming adjustment of the amount of Rs. 1,96,116/- realized illegally from him. He also claimed compensation of Rs. 1,00,000/- along with cost.
3. The respondent electricity company resisted the complaint on the ground that the electricity connection was obtained for commercial purpose as there are many employees working in his Cold Storage. It has been further submitted that in compliance of earlier order dated 30.12.2003 passed in C.C. No.08/2003, the security deposit made by the complainant on 28.08.2001 was adjusted in the bill of October-2004. Since at that time there was no amount to be realized as meter-rent, therefore such order was passed. In October-2004, Rs. 1,33,378/- were deposited as security deposit in his account from which Rs. 11,000/- were adjusted towards security deposit, therefore, in the month of November-2004, Rs. 1,44,738/- were deposited in his account. The demand raised of Rs. 12,572/- was withdrawn. As per rules of the electricity company, the consumer who paid the meter cost, need not pay the meter rent but in the present case the meter cost has already been adjusted and he was paying interest on that amount. Thus after November-2004, realization of meter rent from him is legal. There is no direction of the Forum in the order dated 30.12.2003 passed in C.C. No.08/2003 that in future no meter rent be realized from him. Since he paid the meter cost, therefore, the District Forum ordered for adjustment of the amount realized from him as meter-rent. At present since meter-cost has already been adjusted in security deposit, therefore, the electricity company is entitled to recover the meter-rent from him. It has been further submitted that the amount of Rs. 5,718/- deposited by the complainant was adjusted in the bill of February- 2004 and he was informed on 15.4.2004.
4. It has been further submitted that feeder from where electricity is provided comes under the urban feeder, therefore the billing was made as per tariff. Rs. 19,000/- were charged as per consumption. All the bills and charges are recovered as per law, therefore, the complainant is not entitled to get any relief. For the amount recovered in the year 2005, the complaint filed in the year 2007 is time barred. It is therefore prayed for dismissal of complaint with cost.
The District Forum after appreciation of evidence adduced by the parties partly allowed the complaint of the appellant holding and ordered for adjustment of the amount recovered as meter rent for the previous two years from the date of filing of complaint i.e. 10.9.2007, in future bills. Thus, the present appeal by the complainant.
5. We have heard learned counsel for the respondent and have also gone through the record. Appellant chose to remain absent despite intimation.
6. Learned counsel for respondents argued that the District Forum has wrongly ordered for adjustment of amount already recovered from the appellant in future bills as the bills so raised and the charges so recovered are legal and as per consumption. There was no deficiency in service on the part of the respondent electricity company, therefore, the complainant/appellant is not entitled to any relief. She prayed for dismissal of appeal.
7. After hearing counsel for respondent and on perusal of evidence adduced by the parties on record, the four points came out for determination:
(1) Whether the cold storage run by the appellant falls under the category of commercial purpose.
(2) Whether the electricity company illegally recovered meter rent charges from the appellant.
(3) Whether electricity company supplying electricity to appellant from rural feeder or urban feeder and charging accordingly.
(4) Whether electricity company has illegally recovered extra charges as alleged by the appellant from him.
8. We are dealing with the aforesaid points one by one. So far as the first point is concerned, the respondent electricity company resisted the complaint on the ground that the cold storage run by the appellant is for commercial purpose and therefore the District Forum has no jurisdiction to entertain the complaint. From the documents filed by the complainant/appellant it is clear that the said cold storage was run by partnership firm in which the husband and wife are the partners. The said cold storage was registered under small industry (Laghu udyog). So far as the disputes regarding supply of electricity to cold storage are concerned, it is well settled that such disputes can be entertained by the Consumer Fora. In our opinion, the District Forum has rightly entertained the complaint.
9. So far as the second point is concerned, the appellant alleged that the respondent electricity company illegally recovered excessive meter rent charges. It is an admitted fact, that in cases, where meter cost is deposited, the meter rent is not to be recovered from the consumer. In the present case the appellant had already deposited the meter cost, even then the electricity company is charging meter rent charges which falls under the category of deficiency in service. The appellant by repeated applications prayed for rectification of defect but the electricity company paid no heed. The District Forum has rightly reached the conclusion that the appellant is entitled to get adjustment of meter rent paid by him for a period of previous two years from the date of filing of complaint i.e. 10.9.2007. We find that the Electricity Company has committed deficiency in service in recovering meter rent from the appellant whose meter cost has already been deposited.
10. The allegation of the appellant is that he was receiving electricity from the rural feeder whereas the respondent electricity company was illegally receiving charges as per tariff of urban feeder. From the pleadings of the parties and documents on record, it is established that the electricity was supplying to the appellant from 11 KV Industrial Feeder which is totally urban feeder, thus we find that the electricity company has not committed any deficiency in charging the appellant as per tariff applicable to Industrial Urban Feeder.
11. So far as the fourth point, the allegation of the appellant is that the respondent is taking extra charges from him is concerned, we find that the appellant has admitted that his connection is for contract demand of 50KW but on various occasions load was found more than the contract demand and therefore the electricity company charged him as per rules. From the documents filed by the electricity company it is well established that on various occasions the complainant/appellant used the electrical energy more than the contract demand and he never applied to the electricity company for a
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ny extension of load and for any permission to use energy more than the sanctioned load, therefore the charges recovered from the electricity company from time to time as per consumption cannot be said to be illegal. 12. In view of the above discussion and facts and circumstances of the case we find that the District Forum has rightly partly allowed the complaint to the extent that the amount paid towards meter charges for the period of two years preceding from 10.9.2007 i.e. the date of filing of complaint can be adjusted by the respondent electricity company. We are not inclined to take a different view of the matter. The District Forum has very elaborately discussed all the points and rightly partly allowed the complaint. The appellant is not entitled to get any more relief. 13. In the result, the appeal fails and is dismissed. The order of the District Forum is upheld. No order as to cost. Appeal dismissed.