Bombay HC refuses to interfere in PILs on inflated power billsUpdated: Jul 15, 2020 02:22 IST
The Bombay high court (HC) on Tuesday refused to interfere in two public interest litigations (PILs) seeking relief against the inflated electricity bills for June, which consumers across the city received. The court held that as the petitioners have an alternate remedy in the form of the grievance redressal forum of the Maharashtra Electricity Regulatory Commission (MERC), it was not inclined to pass orders. The court further directed the forum to act and decide on the complaints expeditiously and disposed of the PILs.
A division bench of justice PB Varale and justice Milind Jadhav, while hearing the PILs filed by citizens Ravindra Desai and Mahibub Shaikh through advocates Vishal Saxena and Ranjit Shinde, was informed by the state that the petitions were not maintainable as an alternate remedy was available to the them.
Additional government pleader Jyoti Chavan, while arguing against the PIL by Desai, said that as he already lodged a complaint with MERC’s grievance redressal forum, he should await its response.
She further submitted that if he was not satisfied with the forum’s response, he could appeal against it and only if he was not satisfied with the appellate authority’s response, could he approach the HC.
Responding to Shaikh’s PIL, government pleader Priyabhushan Kakade, along with advocate Nisha Mehra, said that the PIL was premature, as the petitioner claimed to be representing the common man but as different power companies have their respective redressal mechanism in place, without knowing if the petitioner has availed of the same, it would not be appropriate for the court to interfere.
Shaikh also prayed that the court should issue directions to electricity companies asking them not to resort to coercive steps to recover their dues from consumers. Responding to this plea, advocate Deepa Chavan on behalf of MERC submitted that a proper code in this regard was mentioned in the Electricity Act and hence if the petitioner was aggrieved, he could take the legal recourse as per the procedure laid down in the Act.
After hearing all the sides, the bench observed that as the petitioners did not fully exhaust the alternate remedies available to them, it was not inclined to interfere. The court also directed MERC to decide on the complaint already filed by Desai in eight weeks and asked MERC to ensure that Shaikh’s grievance, if he made one, was addressed in the manner prescribed in the Act.