Tamil Nadu Electricity Distribution Code does not create a class among persons occupying poromboke lands
The Tamil Nadu Electricity Board (TNEB) cannot snap or refuse to provide electricity connections to private commercial/industrial buildings constructed on Government ‘poromboke’ lands, the Madras High Court has said.
Allowing a writ petition filed by a petty shop owner in the Madurai Bench, Justice T.S. Sivagnanam said that the Tamil Nadu Electricity Distribution (Amendment) Code, 2004 does not differentiate between residential and commercial buildings.
He pointed out that Regulation 27 (12) of the Code states that electricity connections could be provided to private buildings on government lands on production of no-objection certificates (NOC) from officers not below the rank of a Deputy Tahsildar.
If an applicant could not produce the NOC, he/she should give an undertaking that they were liable to be evicted and disconnection of electricity supply at any time if the lands were required by the Government in the future.
Mr. Justice Sivagnanam did not agree with a circular issued by the Government on November 11, 2008 clarifying that power supply could be extended only to residential dwellings and not commercial buildings on poromboke lands.
"A clarification cannot supersede the effect of a statutory rule or regulation. Admittedly, the regulations formulated under the Tamil Nadu Electricity Distribution Code do not create a class among persons in occupation of poromboke lands," he said.
"Even assuming that the clarification is applicable, the petitioner’s counsel R. Alagumani submitted that a petty shop cannot be construed to be a commercial or industrial building… I am inclined to accept the contentions of the learned counsel," the judge added.
He further stated that the TNEB officials had failed to explain why they were bent upon disconnecting the electricity supply given to the petitioner’s shop alone when there were 53 other commercial establishments in the same area.