The Kerala High Court has dismissed a Public Interest Litigation filed challenging bimonthly billing system adopted by the Kerala State Electricity Board Limited (KSEB) with regard to the bills issued to the domestic consumers.
One Vinay Kumar MC had approached the High Court contending that, due to that billing formula adopted by the KSEB the consumers are forced to pay more amounts when compared to the monthly billing system. He further contended that, bimonthly billing system and formula for determination of bills to its domestic consumers is not approved or recognized by the Kerala State Electricity Regulatory Commission.
Responding to this plea, KSEB contended before the Court that the procedure adopted by the KSEB in respect of the domestic consumers by giving bimonthly bills is in accordance with law. It also questioned the locus standi of the petitioner to file the public interest litigation. KSEB also stated that if consumers are aggrieved by bills, there are remedies available to dispute the bills as per Regulation 130 of the Kerala Electricity Supply Code, 2014. If and when any such complaints are received, the designated officer of the licensee would immediately carry out a review and in appropriate cases would revise the bill.Even in spite of the same if the grievance of the consumer persists, the consumer is at liberty to approach the Consumer Grievance Redressal Forum of the KSEB for settling the dispute, and still aggrieved, a further appeal can be preferred there from, to the Ombudsman constituted under the statute, the Board stated in their counter affidavit.
The bench comprising of the Chief Justice S. Manikumar and Justice Shaji P. Chaly observed that the public interest litigation is not a solution to rectify any defects occurred in the bimonthly bills issued, even taking into account the fact that 76 days reading was taken for issuing the bimonthly bill. The Court also noted that the petitioner has not produced adequate materials to show that a substantial number of domestic consumers are affected by the irregular bimonthly bills issued by the KSEB Limited.
"Looking from any angle it cannot be said that petitioner has made out any case justifying interference under Article 226 of the Constitution of India to secure the reliefs sought for in a public interest litigation."
Taking note of the submissions made by the KSEB about bimonthly system, the bench said:
"We are satisfied that the methodology adopted by the KSEB Limited is approved as per the provisions of the Act and the Code. Even though it is stated that the Board has not applied for the approval of the Regulatory Commission, by virtue of the provisions of the Code, the bimonthly system adopted by the Board is well recognized. Moreover, the provisions of Act, 2003 protected the bimonthly billing system adopted by the KSEB Limited from the year 1990."
The Court also observed that the KSEB has recognized the difficulties faced by its domestic consumers due to the situations prevailing in the community due to the pandemic COVID 19, and have taken appropriate steps to reduce the bill, grant rebate and permit the consumers to pay the bills issued in reasonable installments.
Case name: VINAY KUMAR M.C vs. STATE OF KERALACase no.: W.P.(C).No.11282 OF 2020Coram: Chief Justice S. Manikumar and Justice Shaji P. Chaly
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