A city consumer court has ruled that if a business establishment, firm or factory is using water only for drinking purpose, they cannot be charged for it at commercial rates.
The judgment is significant as Delhi Jal Board is at present charging commercial rates from malls, shopping complexes or from those running small shops in DDA flats.
Delhi North-West District Consumer Disputes Redressal Forum gave the significant ruling while quashing a bill of Rs 10,039 including arrears of two years (November 2003 to November 2005) raised against one Vijay Pal after suddenly changing his tariff category from domestic to commercial.
This was after a Delhi Jal Board (DJB) inspection team on January 20, 2004 “found” he ran a shoe factory from his premises in Badli Extension.
Pal, who had the connection since 12 years had been paying domestic tariff till March 2005. He stated before the court that he never used water for any commercial or industrial purpose and it was just for drinking. “Merely because a business premises is run from a residential building would not render liable the category of water connection to be changed unless shown that water was used in connection with business”, said forum president Rakesh Kapoor and members SC Jain and Prem Lata.
“A nexus between use of water and carrying on commercial activity either inside the house or in shop must be established for charging commercial rate”, the forum said citing orders of Delhi High Court and State Consumer Commission.
DJB has been asked to issue a revised bill to Pal and pay a compensation of Rs 3,000 for the “mental agony and harassment”.
Rejecting DJB’s justification for charging commercial charges, the court said: “DJB failed to prove that water was being used for business purpose or for any industrial activity. Question of water being used for commercial activity did not arise at all”.