Delhiites, especially the ones who are vocal against wrongdoings by power distribution firms, may have reasons to be wary of finding discom officials at their doorsteps.
Last week, the Consumer Grievance Redressal Forum pulled up discom BSES Yamuna for raiding the house of, and slapping false charges of electricity theft on, a 72-year-old ex-armyman. It also took away his perfectly fine electricity meter for no apparent reason - all in the name of enforcement drive.
Not only did the forum find the discom's notice of alleged power theft illegal, it also called the whole exercise completely out of line.
The victim, Arun Dutta of Mayur Vihar Phase-II complained that BSES targeted him because for the past few years he had been criticising the discoms at all forums and also objecting to tariff hike at public hearings.
"They wanted to malign my record as a consumer, so that they could question my credibility. They probably wanted to send a message to others like me," Dutta said.
One afternoon in March this year, Dutta returned home to find six men from the discom's enforcement team seated in his drawing room, threatening to raid his house.
They had invoked Section 163 (1) A of the Electricity Act, which empowers officials to inspect power supply equipment belonging to the discom.
Well-versed with the electricity laws, Dutta told them that his house did not have any power apparatus that belonged to the discom; neither was any independent witness present, as is mandatory in such inspections, so the notice was illegal.
"To this, they said that if I did not allow them to inspect then they would charge me with theft and disconnect supply," he said.
The officials also broke open the meter room of the apartment building, without waiting for the key.
"They said that I was using a huge load of 35,000 volts. But I told them that's ridiculous because no domestic meter could withstand such a load without catching fire," he said.
That's when Dutta sensed foul play.
The tiff perhaps had its origin last year when Dutta got a 'check meter' installed next to his main meter after suspecting that it was running quicker than usual.
Earlier this year the discom's laboratory tests, however, found that Dutta's meter was, in fact, fine. But for reasons unknown, BSES did not reinstate the same meter. "Why wouldn't they return my meter if it was found alright?" he said.
While BSES denied all charge, the forum disagreed.
"This shows a lack of seriousness on the part of the company to do its job properly," the judgement said.
Residents' associations, however, said the message was loud and clear: "It means if we make too much noise about everything wrong the discoms do, they will harass us with false charges like this," said Hemanta M Sharma, who led the RWAs team in objections to tariff hike at public hearings earlier this month.