The action of a property tax collector in disconnecting the water supply to a house without giving notice has landed him and the Thanjavur Municipality in trouble.
The State Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission has directed them to pay costs of Rs.4,000 to a complainant.
Partly allowing an appeal from T. Ramachandran, a retired official residing at East Gate, Thanjavur, the Commission Bench of J. Jayaram, Presiding Judicial Member, and Vasugi Ramanan, Member, also directed the civic body to provide water connection to him after collecting water tax arrears.
The case of Mr. Ramachandran was that the house tax collector, Balukutti, disconnected the water connection without giving notice.
He had filed a complaint before the District Consumer Disputes Redressal Forum, Thanjavur. The Thanjavur Municipality Commissioner, Civil Engineer and Junior Engineer in-charge of water supply and the tax collector were cited as opposite parties.
The forum dismissed the complaint as not maintainable. Aggrieved, Mr. Ramachandran filed the present appeal.
The appellant argued that it was the tax collector who had disconnected the water connection.
The Bench observed that the complainant had sought information from the Municipal Commissioner under the RTI Act. As it was not provided, the Information Commission had imposed fine on the official.
The Commission said that though not providing information was not within the ambit of the consumer forum, adverse inference may be drawn against the municipality. The disconnection of water supply owing to non-payment of arrears was also not within the consumer forum's jurisdiction. But, a letter from the Commissioner had stated that no disconnection had been done. It proved the high-handedness of the tax collector.
It was not the municipality's case that connection was disconnected due to non-payment of tax, as the Commissioner claimed that there was no disconnection of service. So, the Commissioner was bound to ensure that the supply was not disconnected.