In an interim relief for lakhs of farmers, the Bombay High Court has directed the Maharashtra State Electricity Distribution Company not to disconnect their power supply.

The order, passed by division bench of Justices A.M. Khanwilkar and S.S. Shinde (Aurangabad bench of the High Court), came on a PIL filed by Jalgaon-based Maharashtra Krushak Hitwardhak Sanghatana. The petitioners contended that though the MSEDC was receiving subsidy from the State government for supplying power at concessional rates to farmers, power was supplied only for 10 hours a day in the rural area, hence the subsidy was not reaching the farmers fully.

“The state government is crediting the subsidy with the MSEDC for 24 hours supply, but as there is shortage of electricity, MSEDC is supplying electricity for approximately ten hours,” the petition states.

In other words, while the government subsidises 50 per cent of the power to be supplied to farmers, the latter get power supply less than half-a-day, hence the MSEDC should not recover any electricity charges from farmers, it says.

Seeking a reply from the state and the MSEDC, the division bench, on January 25, restrained the MSEDC from disconnecting supply of defaulting farmers till further orders. The next hearing is scheduled for Monday.