No one can be allowed to seek free electricity or demand concessions on their alleged inflated electricity bills, the Bombay High Court said on Wednesday. The HC further said, if any consumer has a grievance about the alleged exorbitant amounts they are being charged, then s/he must approach the relevant authorities and the consumer courts.
A bench of Chief Justice Dipankar Datta and Justice Ajay Gadkari refused to entertain a PIL filed by BJP MLA Mangal Lodha, seeking concessions for high electricity bills consumers had to pay.
Lodha, through his counsel, told the judges that many consumers had been charged exorbitant amounts in their power bills. He further pointed out that service providers had threatened to disconnect electricity supply to consumers.
The advocate further said, the MSEDC's grievance redressal mechanism wasn't workable, as people couldn't approach the authority amid the lockdown.
Having heard the contentions, Justice Gadkari said, "If you (Lodha) claim to be a social activist, then you should guide the citizens to approach the grievance redressal officer. Or help them approach the consumer forum."
"Let us clarify, we cannot allow anyone to seek free electricity," Justice Gadkari remarked (oral observation).
The bench led by CJ Datta noted that the MSEDC had passed a fresh "tariff order" on April 21 and that all the service providers were dutybound to follow the same. "The new tariff order, we think is for the welfare of the citizens, and not against their interests," CJ Datta noted.
"Thus, concessions as sought, cannot be allowed. No consumer can be given any concession in paying the bills," CJ Datta said in his orders, adding, "The service providers are bound to follow the norms and the tariff order of the MSEDC. They will have to implement the orders in letter and spirit."