VISAKHAPATNAM: A Rural Electricity Cooperative Society (RECS) Ltd. has been directed by the Visakhapatnam District Consumer Forum-I to repay the deposit amount collected from a consumer along with compensation and cost of litigation.
A resident of Munagapaka mandal under Anakapalle RECS in Kasimkota, Dadi Sambamurthy, has a domestic electricity connection and he was regularly paying consumption charges. But it was disconnected by the RECS on October 22, 2003. The consumer issued a telegram and also a registered letter to the RECS but the connection was not restored. The disconnection was made on the eve of Diwali festival and as such the consumer suffered a lot of hardship and mental agony.
The RECS wrote a letter to the consumer saying that he had unauthorisedly availed power supply from the agricultural connection for domestic purpose and it had given opportunity before effecting disconnection. It restored power only on a deposit of Rs.3,060 on November 1, 2003 which was paid by the consumer in protest. He later filed a complaint (Consumer Complaint No: 1198/2004) against Anakapalle RECS in the forum for repayment of deposit, compensation for mental agony and costs.
The opposite party (OP) filed a counter denying the material allegations and contended that a notice was mandatory before filing complaint and as such the complaint was not maintainable for want of notice. Also, the complainant and his brothers were living in the same house that was provided with domestic service. Adjoining the house, they had agricultural land with a sugarcane crusher having agriculture service connection. The OP also said that on October 22, the Deputy Project Engineer noticed that the complainant was pilfering power from the agricultural service connection meter by means of a wire for his domestic purpose and it was immediately photographed. The same day, the domestic connection and unauthorized connection were disconnected and also a notice provisionally estimating the energy at Rs.5,719 and demanding to pay half of the demand with supervision charges and reconnection fee was sent to the complainant and after the latter paid the money, power was restored, it stated. A case filed basing on the pilferage was pending and further it had to assess the actual loss caused to the corporation. The matter was within the purview of A.P. Electricity Supply Act and the complainant was not entitled to any relief, the OP argued.
The forum noted that photographs were relied on to show the actual connection of wires to the farm connection for purpose of pilfering energy to domestic consumption. Even if this was accepted, the disconnection of domestic connection was not proper since there was no default by the consumer. When the farm connection was used for a different purpose, the connection had to be dealt with suitably but not the domestic connection, they held. The OP was directed to repay Rs.3,060 to the consumer along with Rs.500 as compensation and another Rs.500 towards litigation cost.