Electricity Dept Has No Business To Check Property Ownership Of Consumer: Kerala High Court
The Kerala High Court recently held that where a civil dispute is pending before the Civil Court, the Electricity Department ought to be circumspect in entertaining a complaint, unless there is gross violation of provisions of the Act.
Justice Amit Rawal passed the above order in a petition that was filed challenging the communication issued by the Electricity Board to the petitioner, asking her to show ownership of the property in question.
"Electricity department has no business to check the veracity of the ownership. Once the matter is pending before the civil court, Electricity Department should be circumspect in entertaining the complaint until and unless there is gross violation of provisions of the Act", the Court observed.
The petitioner, Rasheeda, was asked by the Kerala State Electricity Board Ltd. (KSEB) to provide an explanation to show the ownership of the property. The notice was issued by the KSEB pursuant to a complaint by by one Pookilath Abdul Shukur (4th respondent).
It is the petitioner's averment that the alleged complainant had already filed a civil suit before the Munsiff Court at Chavakkad, which had granted an injunction with respect to a motorable way until the disposal of the suit. It was submitted by Advocate M.G. Sreejith on behalf of the petitioner that the complainant harboured animosity against the petitioner's husband, who is also the former's brother, and had thus, maliciously filed the complaint before the Electricity Department in respect of drawing a 500 meter wire to the borewell alleged to be used illegally. The Electricity Department had thus called on the petitioner to furnish the details of ownership without verifying the veracity of the complaint or the file of the electric connection allotted to the petitioner. It was contended by the counsel that since a civil dispute regarding the property was pending before the civil court, the Electricity Department could not have sent the impugned communication.
It is in this context that the Court discerned that,
"Once the civil suit is pending there was no occasion for the respondents to lodge a complaint as an act of disgruntlement".
It went on to state that the notice issued by the Electricity Department was "wholly uncalled for and arbitrary much less illegal and without jurisdiction".
The Court thus allowed the writ petition, and quashed the impugned notice.
Standing Counsel for KSEB, Advocate B. Premod appeared on behalf of the respondents.
Case Title: Rasheeda v. Kerala State Electricity Board Ltd. & Ors.
Citation: 2023 LiveLaw (Ker) 28