Appeal No. 264 of 2016 and I.A. No. 667 of 2016. Case: Paschim Gujarat Vij Co. Ltd. Vs Gokul Agro Resources Ltd. and Ors.. APTEL (Appellate Tribunal for Electricity)

Case NumberAppeal No. 264 of 2016 and I.A. No. 667 of 2016
CounselFor Appellant: M.G. Ramachandran, Anand K. Ganesan, Ranjitha Ramachandran and Anushree Bardan, Advs. and For Respondents: Navin Pahwa, Ashish Jha and China Jethwani, Advs.
JudgesRanjana P. Desai, J. (Chairperson) and I.J. Kapoor, Member (T)
IssueElectricity Act, 2003 - Sections 128, 129, 142, 173, 181, 42, 42(5), 42(6), 42(8), 45(5), 55(2), 57, 62, 62(6), 86, 86(1), 94(1)(g); Representation Of The People Act, 1951 - Section 116A
Judgement DateFebruary 07, 2017
CourtAPTEL (Appellate Tribunal for Electricity)


Ranjana P. Desai, J. (Chairperson)

  1. The Appellant is a distribution licensee. Respondent No. 1 - Gokul Agro Resources Limited is a consumer of the Appellant. In this appeal, the Appellant has challenged Order dated 26/07/2016 passed by Respondent No. 2, the Gujarat Electricity Regulatory Commission ("State Commission") whereby the State Commission has admitted Respondent No. 1's petition.

  2. We must give a brief background of the case. Respondent No. 1 has two HT connections. Respondent No. 1 sought NOC to obtain Open Access which was denied by the Appellant on the ground that the same legal entity of Respondent No. 1 having two separate connections need to merge the connections and for a premises there can be only one connection. The Appellant was supplying electricity to the two connections separately and was billing accordingly. However, from June 2015, the Appellant revised the methodology for issuance of energy bills by charging excess 11.11% on the total units consumed. Respondent No. 1 therefore filed a petition before Respondent No. 2 the State Commission under Sections 62(6), 86(1) and 94(1)(g) of the Electricity Act, 2003 ("the said Act") inter alia on the grounds that the action of the Appellant was in violation of the provisions of the said Act, the rules and regulations framed thereunder and also in violation of the tariff orders of the State Commission.

  3. The Appellant raised a preliminary objection that the State Commission has no jurisdiction to entertain the petition the dispute raised before it being a dispute between the consumer and the distribution licensee. According to the Appellant only the Consumer Grievance Redressal Forum ("CGRF") constituted under Section 42(5) of the said Act has the power. In this connection, reliance was placed on the judgment of the Gujarat High Court in Modern Denim Limited v. Uttar Gujarat Vij Gujarat Ltd.1 By the impugned order, the State Commission rejected the preliminary objection and admitted the petition.

  4. Mr. Navin Pahwa learned counsel appearing for Respondent No. 1 raised objection to the maintainability of this appeal. Hence, the parties were directed to file their response on the issue of maintainability.

  5. Raising objection to the maintainability of the appeal, Mr. Navin Pahwa learned counsel for Respondent No. 1 firstly relied on the judgment of the Supreme Court in PTC India Limited v. Gujarat Electricity Regulatory Commission & Anr.2. Counsel submitted that in this case the Supreme Court has held that the object of the said Act is to ensure expeditious adjudication of the disputes raised by the parties and, therefore, there is no warrant for entertaining preliminary objections raised by the parties. Counsel submitted that the Appellant has in this appeal raised only the preliminary issue of jurisdiction. Hence, the appeal be dismissed. Counsel submitted that the appeal challenges interim order of admission of petition. On this ground also the appeal is liable to be dismissed. Counsel further submitted that this matter does not involve a simple billing dispute. The question of merger of two HT connections and recovery of 11.11% monthly energy charges in addition to regular bill amount squarely fall within the jurisdiction of the State Commission. They involve interpretation of provisions of the said Act and relevant rules and regulations. In support of his submissions counsel relied on judgment of the Supreme Court in BSES Ltd. v. Tata Power Co. Ltd. & Ors. (2003) Supp-4 SCR 932 and order of the Supreme Court in Lanco Amarkantak Power Ltd. v. Haryana Electricity Regulatory Commission & Ors.3. Counsel also relied on judgment of this Tribunal in PTC India Limited v. Gujarat Electricity Regulatory Commission & Anr.4. Counsel submitted that in the circumstances, the appeal is liable to be dismissed at the stage of admission.

  6. Ms. Suparna Srivastava, learned counsel for the State Commission submitted that Section 62 of the said Act relates to determination of tariff by the State Commission. As per sub-section 6 thereof, under which the petition is filed, the consumer can recover amount charged in excess of the tariff determined by the State Commission. Dispute raised by Respondent No. 1 relates to recovery of 11.11% monthly energy charges which is not determined by the State Commission can only be decided by the State Commission. Counsel drew our attention to paragraph 1.10 of the petition and submitted that while examining the issue of merger the State Commission will have to look into two sets of regulations and consider which of them apply to the present case and, therefore, the dispute is not just a billing dispute. The State Commission has jurisdiction to entertain it.

  7. Mr. Ramachandran learned counsel for the Appellant submitted that the dispute involved in this case is a purely individual consumer grievance which is covered by Section 42(5) and (6) of the said Act. Counsel submitted that the claim of the Appellant is consistent with the provisions of the Electricity Supply Code notified by the State Commission. Counsel submitted that the issues involved in these appeals do not require any clarification of the tariff order or regulations of the State Commission. In support of his submissions counsel relied on the judgment of the Supreme Court in Maharashtra State Electricity Distribution Co. Ltd. v. Lloyd's Steel Industries Ltd. AIR 2008 SC 1042 and judgment of this Tribunal in Dakshin Haryana Bijli...

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