Mumbai: The Bombay High Court has ruled that only a residential electricity tariff can be levied for a lawyer's residence, even if the lawyer is using the residential space as an office.
Justice Madhav Jamdar recently upheld the order of the consumer court, which directed the Maharashtra State Electricity Distribution Co. Ltd (MSEDCL) to apply residential electricity tariffs to a lawyer, Shriniwas Odhekar, who used his residential space for his office as well.
The court dismissed the petition challenging the consumer court's order, which had favoured the lawyer.
"Admittedly, the Respondent is a professional lawyer, and the premises are situated in a residential building. The use of the premises, as per the sanctioned plan, is also residential. Therefore, there is no illegality or perversity in the impugned order," noted Justice Jamdar.
In September 2012, the consumer court ruled in favour of the lawyer, relying on a 2020 commercial circular, which stated that the residential tariff category would be applicable for electricity used at low or medium voltage in premises used by professionals like lawyers, doctors, engineers, chartered accountants, etc., in furtherance of their professional activities. It also directed MSEDCL to issue a bill to the lawyer, Shriniwas Odhekar, in accordance with the residential tariff.
MSEDCL challenged the legality and validity of the consumer forum's order before the high court. Its advocates, Rahul Sinha and Anjali Shahi, contended that since the lawyer had used residential premises as his office, he should be charged a commercial tariff.
However, Odhekar’s advocates, NV Bandiwadekar and Ashwin Bandiwadekar, claimed that the premises were residential as per the sanctioned plan, even though they were "also" used as an office by him.
The high court ruled in Odhekar's favor and dismissed MSEDCL’s plea.