Purchasing a pre-owned property? Then ensure that the previous owner has not left any electricity dues as the power distributor can compel you to pay them or disconnect supply in case of default.
In a significant ruling, the Delhi High Court has given distribution companies full power in this regard.
A special three-judge bench, headed by Chief Justice Ajit Prakash Shah and constituted to decide on the contentious issue, said: “If there are electricity dues against the premises’ previous owner who transfers it to a new owner, the new owner applying for a fresh electricity connection can be compelled by the distribution company to pay the arrears… and the distribution company can refuse to supply electricity to the premises on account of such non-payment.”
“Electricity is a public property and hence the law in its majesty benignly protects public property and behoves everyone to respect public property. Hence, the courts must adopt the interpretation which furthers the preservation and protection of public property,” said the bench quoting from a Supreme Court.
The court imposed a fine of Rs. 25,000 on Saurashtra Color Tones Private Ltd (SCTPL), an industrial unit in Nangloi, which opposed the plea filed by discom BSES Rajdhani Power Ltd.
The SCTPL had brought the property from one Dev Arora.
The company found him using more electricity than sanctioned.
BSES disconnected the supply as he refused to pay the dues. After purchasing the property, the SCTPL requested the discom to resume supply. But BSES asked them to first clear the arrears left by the earlier owner.
The SCTPL got a favourable verdict from a single judge of the high court in 2005 which upheld its argument that a purchaser of the property cannot be asked or coerced to pay the amount which the appellant as the licencee may be claiming from the former consumer.
The single judge also ruled that "disconnection as a stand-alone action without initiation of recovery proceedings against the actual consumer (not the subsequent purchaser) was be illegal".
But on Thursday, acting on an appeal filed by the BSES, the special three-judge bench overturned the single judge's verdict and said the discom had full right to compel the new owner to pay the arrears before restoring the electricity connection to the property.