‘Profit-makers not consumers’ | mumbai | Hindustan Times
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‘Profit-makers not consumers’

mumbai Updated: Sep 02, 2010 01:57 IST
Dharmendra Jore
Dharmendra Jore
Hindustan Times

You cannot approach the consumer court with complaints against your electricity service provider if you are using electricity for commercial activity that earns you profit.

On August 11, the city’s Suburban Consumer Dispute Redressal Forum ruled that since self-employed people running an industry exclusively for earning a livelihood also make profit, they cannot be treated as consumers under the Consumer Protection Act.

Five consumers from the Deonar Majithia Industrial Estate had, in two separate cases, moved the forum when Reliance Infrastructure [then Reliance Energy] billed them under the LTP-II (low tension for industrial use) category which is costlier than LTP-I under which they were being charged until then.

One of the complainants Ponrathnam N, who had moved the forum five years ago, told Hindustan Times that he had suffered losses of Rs 11 lakh since 2004 by paying an extra amount to Reliance Infrastructure (RInfra).

“I got a copy of the court order three days ago. I don’t know what to do after fighting the case for the past five years,” Ponrathnam said.

Ponrathnam, who is an approved consumer representative of the Maharashtra Electricity Regulatory Commission (MERC), said commercial consumers will have to opt for more expensive ways to take on power distributors.

“We will have to move MERC or the high court. This will cost us more and consume more time,” he said.

The order, issued by the forum’s chairperson Suman Mahajan and member G.L. Chavan, [a copy of it is with HT], said the Consumer Protection Act does not treat people or companies, who use any ‘service’ for profiteering, as consumers.

“A similar verdict was given by the national [consumer] forum. So, this forum cannot try the matter related to tariff or pricing,” the order said.

The district forum, in its interim order, had restrained RInfra from disconnecting power supply to the complainants.

RInfra had challenged this order in the state consumer court, which then asked the petitioners to pay new charges until the case was disposed.

All the five consumers have now shifted to Tata Power Company that supplies power at cheaper rates.