For two months forty-five year old Sunil Puri, an entrepreneur, ran around at the BSES Yamuna office, Karkardooma with a piece of paper claiming that he was a thief. He wasn't. And he proved that.
But to do so, he had to fight tooth-and-nail with senior and junior officials, field staff of the discom and even touts, all of whom suggested it was easier to plead guilty and appeal for a lower penalty.
"I was not at fault. And they knew it," Puri says.
What happened was this: One fine day, the power went off at his factory at Patparganj Industrial Estate. He thought it was a power cut. A little later, he realised it wasn't a power cut but a fault in his electrical system.
So he called the discom's technicians who, after checking the wiring at the factory, decided the fault lay in the meter.
The drama started here.
"They broke open the meter's seal and found that its circuit had burnt out," he says.
Instead of replacing the meter, the technicians began blaming Puri.
"They said I should have kept my meter safe and all that. It was outrageous. As a consumer, all I was supposed to ensure was that the meter's seal was intact. And it was. Why was I being blamed?"
A week later, a letter arrived from the discom claiming that Puri had tampered with his meter and was stealing electricity — in their words Direct Extraction of Energy which could attract a prison term and a hefty penalty.
Puri went to every possible officer from the local complaint centre to the discom's head offices both at Karkardooma and Nehru Place. Many asked for money to make the case go his way or vanish altogether.
"For two months, I didn't go to my factory. Each morning I went to their office and be there the whole day to speak to anyone who cared to listen."
It took a toll on Puri's health; tension prevailed at home.
But in the end, Puri went to the Delhi Electricity Regulatory Commission (DERC), which, after examining the case, summarily quashed the "Show Cause" order.
"When everything was over, the discom wanted me to write a letter of satisfaction. But I demanded a written apology first," he says.
Puri is still waiting for the apology.