Permanent Lok Adalat (PLA) has given major relief of Rs 37,491 to a resident of Mandi Gobindgarh by quashing charges against him levelled by the Punjab State Power Corporation Limited (PSPCL).
The PSPCL had directed the petitioner to pay charges for power theft and for tampering with the electricity meter. Ruling in favour of the petitioner, the PLA also held the PSPCL responsible for not following its rules and regulations in the case.
Subhash Kumar had filed a petition saying that the PSPCL had raised an illegal demand of Rs 77,062 for electricity charges, following which his mother had filed an application before the deputy chief engineer of Khanna, who in turn reduced the fine from Rs 77,062 to Rs 17,491 plus Rs 20,000 as the compounded fee, which brought the amount payable to Rs 37,491. The petitioner then challenged the fine before the the PLA. Clarifying its stand, PSPCL replied that the meter in question was replaced with a new meter. The PSPCL further stated that the changed meter was sealed as per rules and was checked in the ME laboratory on June 6, 2013, and found that the meter had been tampered with and the reading, counting and security cover were missing and the consumer had stopped recording the actual consumption.
The PSPCL added that following the violation, it issued a notice to the consumer on June 7, 2013 and after objections raised by the consumer, a final hearing had taken place on July 15, 2013. The amount had then been reduced from Rs 77,062 to Rs 37,491.
However, PLA chairman PD Goel observed that PSPCL failed to provide sufficient evidence that the meter was removed, packed and sealed in the presence of the petitioner as per rules laid by it.
The PLA further observed that the PSPCL submitted a self-serving affidavit of the engineer, Balbir Singh, which was not sufficient evidence as he neither checked the meter in the ME laboratory nor was he a member of the committee. It also observed that the ME lab report did not bear the signature of the consumer, so PSPCL had violated its own rules and regulations.
Further, the PLA also observed that the meter was installed outside the house of the consumer, therefore, the consumer could not be held guilty for committing power theft as it was the duty of the PSPCL to conduct checking to avoid power theft.