In a significant ruling affecting thousands of consumers, the Delhi State Consumer Disputes Redressal Forum on Monday said private power distribution companies in the Capital could not suddenly raise bills of more than two years and disconnect supply.
“No sum due from any consumer shall be recoverable after a period of two years from the date when such sum became first due unless such sum has been shown continuously as recoverable as arrears of charges for electricity supplied and the licensee shall not cut off the electricity supply,” commission president Justice JD Kapoor said.
The judge said this is clearly stated under Section 56 of the Delhi Electricity Act 2003, but the distcoms have been flouting it with impunity and harassing consumers.
“The power distribution companies cannot be allowed to take advantage of their acts of omission and commission of allowing bills to pile up and serve it in one go and thereby rendering a person unable to make payment,” said the court.
This ruling came in a case related to Krishna Wanti, a resident of Rajinder Nagar. She had been getting provisional bills
for a long time and no one came from her service provider BSES Yamuna power for meter reading. In March 2005, she received a bill of Rs 1.9 lakh as arrears of more than two years.
Her repeated request to the company to correct the bill fell on deaf ears following which she moved the consumer court. The consumer commission has quashed the inflated bill and directed BSES to revise the bill “as per provisions of law”.
“Raising of provisional bill for such a long time is against mandatory provisions of law as provisional bill can be raised only for a short duration and not continuously for years,” the forum ruled.
The state consumer court said the Delhi Electricity Act has clearly specified that “notwithstanding anything contained in any other law for the time being in force, no sum due from any consumer shall be recoverable after a period of two years from the date when such sum became first due unless such sum has been shown continuously as recoverable as arrears of charges for electricity supplied and the licensee shall not cut off the electricity supply”.