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The perusal of the inspection report dated 25.9.2001 reveals that the meter was got installed by the complainant inside the hospital whereas as per rules it was to be installed at the front portion of the hospital. In other words the complainant was getting benefit of the hole in the meter by getting the meter installed inside so that theft of energy could be easily made. It is well settled principle of law that a consumer in whose custody the meter is provided by the Nigam is under a legal obligation to keep it intact and any tempering with it directly or indirectly shall be termed theft of energy under the circumstances of the case. In the present case admittedly the checking was conducted by the Vigilance staff in the company of other officials of the Nigam and their report cannot be disbelieved without any cogent, convincing and corroborating evidence contrary to it. The complainant in the present case has miserably failed to disclose as to what was the reason for developing a hole inside the meter. Checking report dated 25.9.2001 which is signed by the complainant as well as the members of the checking party, is sufficient to prove it a case of theft of energy. The observations of the District Consumer Forum, Sirsa that the seals were found intact and therefore, there was no question of committing theft of electric energy but this observation of the District Forum is not sustainable for the reason that it is a novel way of committing theft of energy because consumer inserts some hard object through the hole of the meter to stop the movement of the disc in order to abstract energy dishonestly without tempering of the seal. It is further observed that by drilling a hole it is the complaint who is to be benefited with respect to committing of theft of energy by inserting some hard object in the hole of the meter to stop the movement of the disc. It is not the case of the complainant that at the time of installation of the meter the said hole was there. It is also not the case of the complainant that the hole has developed due to any climatic change or with passage of time. The appellants-opposite parties have produced the meter in question which has a drilling hole in it. Admittedly the drilling process is the outcome of the nefarious and illegal designs of complainant to commit theft of energy through the hole. No person would drill a hole in the meter unless he gets any benefit from it. Hence this case is distinguishable from the observation made in Gautam Plastic and Ram Nath case (supra).

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NATIONAL CONSUMER DISPUTES REDRESSAL COMMISSION

 

NEW DELHI

REVISION PETITION No. 2390 OF 2010

(From the Order dated 11.05.2010 in Appeal No. 2994/2002 of the

Haryana State Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission, Panchkula)

Dr. Laxman Dass Bansal                                                                           Petitioner

C/o Bansal Hospital

Old Bus Stand, Rania

Tahsil Rania

Rania

District Sirsa

Versus

1. Executive Engineer                                                                                Respondents

(OP) Division

Dakshin Haryana Bijli Vitran

Nigam Ltd.

Sirsa Distt. Sirsa

 

2. SDO (OP) Sub-Division

Ph-1, Sas Nagar Branch

Dakshin Haryana Bijli Vitran

Nigam Ltd.

Sirsa Distt. Sirsa

BEFORE:

                   HON’BLE MR. JUSTICE V.B. GUPTA, PRESIDING MEMBER

       HON’BLE MR. SURESH CHANDRA, MEMBER

For the Petitioner                           :              Mr. Himanshu Upadhyay, Advocate

For the Respondents                       :           Mr. Alok Sangwan, Advocate

 

Pronounced on :  3rd January 2012

 

ORDER

PER SURESH CHANDRA, MEMBER

On 25.9.2001, the vigilance staff of the respondents inspected the electricity connection installed in the hospital premises of the petitioner/complainant and during the checking, it was noticed that in the left side body of the meter at the level of the disk, there was a hole through which by inserting any artificial object the disk of the meter could be stopped in view of the sale circular no.4/2001, sale circular no.61/2000 and sale circular no.38/1998. It was, therefore, recorded as a case of abstracting energy dishonestly and hence the account of the complainant required to be overhauled. The checking report was prepared at the site which was signed by the members of the checking party as well as the complainant in token of its correctness. Thereafter by overhauling the account of the complainant, he was imposed penalty of Rs.1,27,959/- vide notice bearing memo no.1251 dated 25.9.2001. The complainant/petitioner challenged the impugned penalty by filing complaint before the District Forum on the ground that at the time of inspection by the vigilance staff there was no artificial object used in the meter through which the disk of the meter could be stopped. It was further stated by him that the meter was required to be sent to the Chief Electrical Inspector as required under section 26 of the Indian Electricity Act and the OPs/respondents had wrongly imposed the impugned penalty upon him without affording any opportunity of hearing.

2.         Upon notice, the OPs/respondents appeared and resisted the claim of the petitioner and justified the impugned penalty and prayed for dismissal of the complaint. On appraisal of the pleadings of the parties and evidence adduced on record, the District Forum by its brief order dated 6.11.2002 accepted the complaint, quashed the notice in question imposing the impugned penalty and directed the respondents to refund the amount already deposited by the petitioner in response to the notice. Litigation expense of Rs. 5,00/- was also directed to be paid by the respondents to the petitioner. While accepting the complaint, the District Forum relied on the case of  Haryana State Electricity Board Vs.Balvant Singh [1997 (1) CPC 579] wherein it has been held that mere finding of a hole in the meter does not amount to theft of energy.

3.         Aggrieved by the aforesaid order of the District Forum, the respondents challenged the same before the State Consumer DisputesRedressal Commission, Haryana, Panchkula (‘State Commission’ for short) by filing an appeal before it. The State Commission vide its impugned order dated 11.5.2010 has reversed the finding of the District Forum, allowed the appeal and set aside the order of the District Forum. It is against this order of the State Commission that the petitioner/complainant has filed the present revision petition.

4.         Arguments of Mr. Himanshu Upadhyay, Advocate for the petitioner and Mr. Alok Sangwan, Advocate for the respondent have been heard. We find that the District Forum has accepted the complaint by passing a very brief and cryptic order in which the contentions of the petitioner were accepted on the basis of Balwant Singh’s case (supra) without considering the facts and circumstances of the present case. On the other hand, we find that the State Commission has carefully considered the rival contentions based on the documents and the peculiar facts and circumstances of the present case. The State Commission has recorded the following reasons in support of its order:-

“After having considered the rival contention of both the parties we do not subscribe to the contention raised on behalf of the respondent-complainant for the reason that each and every case has its own footings. In the present case admittedly the checking was conducted by high ranking officer of the Vigilance department of the Nigam.

The perusal of the inspection report dated 25.9.2001 reveals that the meter was got installed by the complainant inside the hospital whereas as per rules it was to be installed at the front portion of the hospital. In other words the complainant was getting benefit of the hole in the meter by getting the meter installed inside so that theft of energy could be easily made. It is well settled principle of law that a consumer in whose custody the meter is provided by the Nigam is under a legal obligation to keep it intact and any tempering with it directly or indirectly shall be termed theft of energy under the circumstances of the case. In the present case admittedly the checking was conducted by the Vigilance staff in the company of other officials of the Nigam and their report cannot be disbelieved without any cogent, convincing and corroborating evidence contrary to it. The complainant in the present case has miserably failed to disclose as to what was the reason for developing a hole inside the meter. Checking report dated 25.9.2001 which is signed by the complainant as well as the members of the checking party, is sufficient to prove it a case of theft of energy. The observations of the District Consumer Forum, Sirsa that the seals were found intact and therefore, there was no question of committing theft of electric energy but this observation of the District Forum is not sustainable for the reason that it is a novel way of committing  theft of energy because consumer inserts some hard object through the hole of the meter to stop the movement of the disc in order to abstract energy dishonestly without tempering of the seal. It is further observed that by drilling a hole it is the complaint who is to be benefited with respect to committing of theft of energy by inserting some hard object in the hole of the meter to stop the movement of the disc. It is not the case of the complainant that at the time of installation of the meter the said hole was there. It is also not the case of the complainant that the hole has developed due to any climatic change or with passage of time. The appellants-opposite parties have produced the meter in question which has a drilling hole in it. Admittedly the drilling process is the outcome of the nefarious and illegal designs of complainant to commit theft of energy through the hole. No person would drill a hole in the meter unless he gets any benefit from it. Hence this case is distinguishable from the observation made in Gautam Plastic and Ram Nath case (supra).

A consumer who commits theft of energy by deceitful illegal means by tampering with the meter cannot claim any benefit under the Consumer Protection Act, 1986, and no deficiency in service can be attributed on the part of the appellants-opposite parties.”

5.         We find that the impugned order passed by the State Commission is a detailed and well-reasoned order and we agree with the view taken by the State Commission. Admittedly the seal of the meter was intact and no other material has been placed before us to hold a view contrary to the view taken by the State Commission. The impugned order, therefore,  does not call for any interference from us while exercising our revisional jurisdiction under section 21(b) of the Consumer Protection Act. The revision petition being devoid of any merit stands dismissed with no order as to costs.

………………………………

(V.B. GUPTA, J)

PRESIDING MEMBER

 

 

………………………………

(SURESH CHANDRA)

MEMBER

SS/

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