The capital’S power distribution companies (distcoms) have been found raiding residences on suspicion of theft without sufficient proof and at times even times when no theft has occurred. As a result, several power-theft cases have been dropped midway without the mandatory lodging of complaints.
To put an end to this arbitrary practice, Delhi Electricity Regulatory Commission (DERC), the power watchdog body, has initiated the process of inserting a clause in the prescribed performance standard for distcoms and introduce some Dos and Don’ts while dealing with theft cases.
“It was found that distcoms often did not register cases even after conducting raids. So in the eyes of the law, no theft occurred. This indicated that distcoms conducted raids even where no theft occurred,” said a DERC official.
Sources said the regulator found that raiding, which the Electricity Act 2003 recognises as a valid tool for unearthing power theft, was often misused by field staff of distcoms to pressure consumers to cough up dues. “These had become recovery tactics, which we want to stop,” he added.
In a recent judgment in a case involving BSES Yamuna, the regulator has observed that distcoms are not following rules in theft cases.
“The distcoms first book a consumer in a theft case and then resolve the matter subsequently without disconnecting the supply, lodging an FIR or initiating proceedings in the Special Court. Not only this, such cases are also kept pending for months together. This leads to harassment of consumers and also has the potential to breed corruption at the level of field staff,” the order said.
However, distcoms have dismissed any allegations of misusing powers to raid and have cited “out-of-court settlements” as a valid tool to settle disputes.