Late Sh. Kimudu Pinnaya was a resident of village Boddautta. In the morning of 25.07.2008 he while going to the fields on the outskirts of village got electrocuted and died. The case of the complainants is that he came into contact with a detached electric wire from the supply-line of Andhra Pradesh Eastern Power Distribution Company Ltd. (hereinafter referred to as “the power company”) and died. The complainants, who are the legal heirs of the deceased were not given any compensation by the power company and, therefore, they approached the concerned District Forum by way of a consumer complaint.
2. The complaint was resisted by the power company primarily on the ground that there was no negligence on the part of its employees and the unfortunate incident had occurred on account of the deceased having touched the conductor of an unauthorized extension of the main line. There was heavy rains in the previous night which had resulted in the detachment of the conductor.
The District Forum allowed the consumer complaint and directed the power company to pay a sum of Rs. 2,60,000/- to the complainants as compensation with interest.
3. Being aggrieved from the order passed by the District Forum the power company approached the concerned State Commission by way of an appeal. Vide impugned order dated 07.09.2012 the State Commission partly allowed the appeal and reduced the compensation to Rs. 1,30,000/- along with interest @ 9% p.a. w.e.f. 26.07.2008 with costs quantified at Rs. 2,500/-. Both the parties are dissatisfied with the order passed by the State Commission and, therefore, have approached this Commission by way of these cross appeals.
4. The thrust of the argument of the learned counsel for the power company is that the incident in which the deceased lost his life happened on account of his coming into contact with a detached conductor of an unauthorized extension of the power supply. This is also the case of the power company that the conductor had got detached from the regular power supply of the power company and, therefore, they cannot be made to pay any compensation, they not being in any manner responsible for the death of the deceased.
5. A perusal of the report into this incident prepared by none other than the power company would show that the deceased had touched the live conductor while going on the fields and had died on account of electrocution. It is also noted that there was no complaint received regarding theft of the conductor. In my view, the negligence on the part of the power company cannot be denied even if it is assumed that the conductor had got detached the previous night from an unauthorized extention of the power supply. It was duty of the power company to ensure that no unauthorized extension is taken by anyone from its regular power supply. Had the power company been vigilant and its employees performed their duty, the alleged unauthorized extension would have been removed by them as soon as it was taken. Had that been done, this incident would not have happened. Therefore, the responsibility for the death of the deceased cannot be denied by the opposite party.
6. In FA No. 192 of 2017 CJ Vijaya Kumari & 3 Ors. Vs. Assistant Engineer, APSPDCL and Ors. dated 27.01.2020, late Shri C.J. Krishna, husband of complainant No.1 and father of complainants No. 2 to 4 was going on a Moped to attend his duty in Tirupathi on 22.4.2011. When he reached Manglampet Road at about 5.30 a.m., he came into contact with a live 11 KV electrical wire and died. Alleging deficiency on the part of the APSPDCL (Andhra Pradesh Southern Power Distribution Company Ltd.), the complainants approached the concerned State Commission by way of a consumer complaint, seeking compensation. It was also alleged in the complaint that the respondents APSPDCL had not properly supervised the live wire, which got disconnected from the pole and caused death of the deceased. Dealing with the submission that the deceased was not a consumer, this Commission inter alia held as under:-
16. Though, it has been contended by the APSPDCL that the deceased cannot be said to be a consumer of the Corporation, I find no merit in the contention. It is not in dispute that APSPDCL was entrusted with the distribution and management of the electric supply in Tirupathi. The Corporation charges for the electricity which it supplies for various purposes such as domestic purposes, commercial purposes and industrial purposes, though it may or may not be charging for the street lighting provided in the town. One possibility that it was charging from the concerned Municipality, whereas other possibility is that the cost of the providing street lights was being met by APSPDCL, out of the revenue, which it was collecting from those to whom electric connections were provided by it for different purposes. Either way, the Corporation would be a service provider for consideration though; the consideration may have been received either from the concerned Municipality or from the consumers to whom electricity was being supplied by it for domestic, commercial and industrial purposes. A guidance in this regard may be taken from the decision of the Hon’ble Supreme Court in Indian Medical Association Vs. V.P. Shantha & Ors., (1995) 6 SCC 651 wherein the context of medical negligence in respect of a patient who is not charged in a hospital, the Hon’ble Supreme Court inter-alia held as under:
“55. On the basis of the above discussion, we arrive at the following conclusion:
(8) Service rendered at a non-government hospital/nursing home where charges are required to be paid by persons who are in position to pay and persons who cannot afford to pay are rendered service free of charge would fall within the ambit of the expression ‘service’ as defined in Section 2(1)(o) of the Act irrespective of the fact that the service is rendered free of charge to persons who are not in a position to pay for such services. Free service, would also be ‘service’ and the recipient a ‘consumer’ under the Act.”
17. In C.G.M., P & O, NPDCL & Ors., Koppu Duddarajam & Anr. IV (2008) CPJ 139 (NC) a live high tension wire fell on farmer sitting in front of Gram Panchayat office, resulting in his death. A consumer complaint, alleging negligence on the part of the NPDCL, Warangal was filed. The complaint was contested by the company, which claimed that the electricity wire had suddenly fallen on the roof of the Gram Panchayat building into a gale. Dismissing the revision petition filed by the company, this Commission inter-alia held that the deceased was a consumer under the Consumer Protection Act since village Panchayat was paying for the electricity supply to its office as well as for the street lights and the villagers were paying taxes to the village panchayat.”
7. Coming to the quantum of compensation, the State Commission reduced the compensation from Rs. 2,60,000/- to Rs. 1,30,000/- without any justification. Even if the deceased was earning only Rs. 3,000/- per month or even the minimum wages for semi-skilled or unskilled workers the compensation awarded by the District Forum cannot be said to be on the higher side and did not warrant any kind of reduction by the State
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Commission. 8. During the course of hearing the learned Counsel for the complainants submitted that even the ex-gratia compensation has since been revised and presently the same is Rs. 5,00,000/-. The compensation awarded by the District Forum, which the Complainant had not challenged also comes to almost the same amount, if interest is added to the compensation. Considering all the facts of the case the revision petitions are disposed of with a direction to power company to pay a sum of Rs. 5,00,000/- to all the complainants together, within six weeks from today failing which the said amount shall carry interest @ 9% p.a. from the date of this order. 9. The registry is directed to pay the fees of the amicus curiae, if not already paid, as per the guidelines adopted by this Commission.