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Devinder Singh v/s Punjab State Power Corporation Ltd. & Others


Company & Directors' Information:- PUNJAB STATE POWER CORPORATION LIMITED [Active] CIN = U40109PB2010SGC033813

Company & Directors' Information:- S & O POWER PRIVATE LIMITED [Active] CIN = U40107MH2010PTC206447

    Revision Petition No. 2668 of 2015

    Decided On, 23 October 2020

    At, National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission NCDRC

    By, THE HONOURABLE MR. DINESH SINGH
    By, PRESIDING MEMBER

    For the Appearing Parties: Karan Dewan, Honey Khanna, Advocates.



Judgment Text

This Revision Petition has been filed under Section 21(b) of The Consumer Protection Act, 1986, hereinafter referred to as the 'Act', challenging the Order dated 08.06.2015 of The State Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission, Punjab, hereinafter referred to as the 'State Commission', in F.A. No. 975 of 2014 arising out of the Order dated 02.06.2014 in C.C. No. 531 of 2013 passed by The District Consumer Disputes Redressal Forum, Sangrur, hereinafter referred to as the 'District Forum'.The Petitioner herein, Mr. Devinder Singh, was the Complainant before the District Forum, and is hereinafter being referred to as the 'Complainant'.The Respondent herein, Punjab State Power Corporation Limited, was the Opposite Party before the District Forum, and is hereinafter being referred to as the 'Opposite Party'.2. Heard arguments from learned Counsel for the Complainant and the learned counsel for the Opposite Party on 17.08.2020.Perused the material on record including inter alia the Order dated 02.06.2014 of the District Forum, the impugned Order dated 08.06.2015 of the State Commission and the Petition.3. Brief facts of the case have been succinctly articulated by the State Commission in paras 2 and 3 of its Order of 08.06.2015:2. Briefly stated, the facts of the case are that the complainant applied for an electric motor connection with OP No.3 on 12.2.1987 by depositing the requisite fee, vide receipt No.58 dated 12.2.1987. On 23.9.1992, he again applied for one electric connection with OP No.3 and deposited requisite fee, vide receipt No. 397 dated 23.9.1992. These connections were applied for irrigating his land to earn his livelihood. He visited the office of the OPs a number of times for the release of these electricity connections, but each time the matter was put off by the OPs on one ground or the other. He also filed an application under RTI Act with OP No.3, who in its reply, given vide letter No. 2080 dated 29.7.2013, informed him that a demand notice was issued to him vide Memo number 194 dated 26.2.1998. It was pleaded that he never received any notice dated 26.2.1998 from the OPs and he came to know about the same only when he sought information under RTI Act. It was further pleaded that he was ready to fulfil all the requirements of PSPCL for issuance of the electric motor connection with the condition that his seniority should not be affected in any manner and was also ready to pay interest, if any, on the requisite fee. A legal notice dated 26.10.2013 was served upon the OPs, but of no avail. Alleging deficiency in service on the part of the OPs, the complainant prayed that they be directed to allot the motor connection to him. Costs and compensation were also prayed.3. Upon notice, OPs contested the complaint and filed joint written reply admitting therein that the complainant applied for one AP electric connection for 5 BHP motor under general category and deposited Rs.510/- as ACD, vide receipt No. 58/021701 dated 12.2.1987. It was pleaded that thereafter they introduced Self Finance Scheme for the AP electric connections, under which those applicants, who applied for AP electric connection under General Category, were entitled to get their applications transferred under said priority category, subject to deposit of Rs.1000/-. The complainant deposited the said earnest money of Rs.1000/- vide BA16 number 397 dated 23.9.1992 for adopting the Self Finance Scheme. Accordingly, his name was entered in the service register. As per seniority, demand notice number 194 dated 26.2.1998 was issued to him, vide which he was asked to deposit Rs.24,000/- as connection fee, but he failed to comply with the demand notice and to deposit the connection fee of Rs.24,000/- and an amount of Rs.75/- in favour of Chief Electrical Inspector within three months. Therefore, his application stood automatically cancelled, as per their instructions. It was further pleaded that he never approached them for compliance of the demand notice or for release of the connection. It was admitted that the complainant submitted an application dated 17.7.2013 seeking information under RTI Act, which was supplied through letter No. 2080 dated 29.7.2013. They pleaded that as per law the complaint of the complainant was not maintainable because he himself failed to comply with the demand notice within stipulated period.4. The District Forum vide its Order dated 02.06.2014 partly allowed the Complaint.5. The State Commission vide its Order dated 08.06.2015 allowed the Appeal and dismissed the Complaint as being "hopelessly time barred" and "not at all maintainable".For ready appreciation, extracts from the appraisal made by the State Commission are reproduced below:8. It is the admitted case of the parties that the complainant applied for electric motor connection with OP No.3 on 12.2.87 by depositing the requisite fee, vide receipt No.58 dated 12.2.87 (Ex.C-2). The case of the complainant is that he further applied for another electric connection with OP NO.3 on 23.2.1992 and deposited Rs.1,000/- on 12.2.87 vide Ex.C-1 and inspite of his repeated visits to the office of the OPs, no electric connection was released to him against any of the two pending applications.9. The specific stand of the OPs is that a priority scheme, called Self Finance Scheme (SFS) was floated by PSPCL, under which the tubewell connections were to be released on priority upon compliance of the demand notice. Existing applicants, registered under general category, were entitled to adopt this scheme on deposit of an amount of Rs.1,000/-. The complainant also deposited Rs. 1,000/- on 23.09.1992 vide Ex.C-1. He has contended that this amount was deposited against a new electric motor connection but, perusal of this receipt, clearly shows that this amount was received as 'earnest money' against A & A No. 1807 AP. Thus, on receipt of Rs. 1,000/-, his earlier application dated 12.2.87, registered under general category, was converted to SFS Scheme. As such, contention of the complainant that he applied for two electric connections is found to be false. It is further the case of the OPs is that demand notice (Ex.OP-3) under SFS was issued to the complainant, vide Memo No. 194 dated 26.2.98. Scrutiny of demand notice shows that it was issued against original application No. 1807 dated 12.2.87 which was subsequently converted under SFS on 23.9.92.10. It is further seen that through the demand notice, the complainant was asked to deposit Rs. 24,000/- as connection fee with them and Rs.75/- with the CEI. It is further mentioned in clause-5 of the demand notice that if its compliance is not made within 3 months, then, It would automatically expire and the application would be considered as cancelled. OPs have further placed on record their despatch register as Ex.OP-5; scrutiny of which shows that vide despatch No. 194 dated 26.2.1998, demand notice was despatched to the complainant against application No.1807 AP alongwith other applicants under SFS Scheme. Thus, it cannot be said that the demand notice was not sent to the complainant in the year 1998. Learned District Forum has wrongly held that there is no evidence to confirm the receipt of demand notice by the complainant. It is not always possible to produce the postal receipt after 15 years.11. Though the complainant has contend that he visited the office of OP No. 3 a number of times to inquire about the release of his connection, but, no evidence has been produced on record to substantiate his contentions. The complainant himself deposited Rs.1,000/- on 23.2.1002 and got his pending application transferred under SFS category. Therefore, he was well aware of the fact that the demand notice was to be issued to him under the said priority category. Still he slept over the matter for over 15 years and did not submit any representation to the OPs or filed complaint against the non-release of the connection. It is evident that complainant himself failed to comply with the demand notice. He cleverly filed application under RTI on 29.7.2013 (Ex.OP-4) only to create evidence in his favour and to bring his complaint with in limitation. But, his continuous silence for 15 years proves that he was not interested in getting the tubewell connection and, therefore, he did not comply with the demand notice, as a result of which, his application stood automatically cancelled. Thus, the complainant is himself found negligent in not complying with the demand notice as well as for not making any representation for a long time. Even his complaint, filed against non-release of the connection, 21 years after giving his option under SFS Scheme and 15 years after issuance of the demand notice, is hopelessly time barred. As such, his complaint was not at all maintainable before the District Forum.12. In view of the above findings, the appeal of the OPs is allowed and impugned order of the District Forum is set aside. Consequently the complaint filed by the complainant is dismissed. No order as to costs.(emphasis supplied)6. It is noteworthy that the State Commission inter alia noted that "- - - As such, contention of the complainant that he applied for two electric connections is found to be false. - - -" and " - - - Thus, it cannot be said that the demand notice was not sent to the complainant in the year 1998. - - -" and " - - - Learned District Forum has wrongly held that there is no evidence to confirm the receipt of demand notice by the complainant. It is not always possible to produce the postal receipt after 15 years. - - -" and " - - - Even his complaint, filed against non-release of the connection, 21 years after giving his option under SFS Scheme and 15 years after issuance of the demand notice, is hopelessly time barred. As such, his complaint was not at all maintainable before the District Forum. - - -".7. The limitation period prescribed under Section 24A of the Act is two years from the date on which the cause of action arose:Section 24A. Limitation period. (1) The District Forum, the State Commis-sion or the National Commission shall not admit a complaint unless it is filed within two years from the date on which the cause of action has arisen.(2) Notwithstanding anything contained in sub-section (1), a complaint may be entertained after the period specified in sub-section (1), if the complainant satisfies the District Forum, the State Commission or the National Commission, as the case may be, that he had sufficient cause for not filing the complaint within such period:Provided that no such complaint shall be entertained unless the National Commission, the State Commission or the District Forum, as the case may be, records its reasons for condoning such delay.8. It is seen that:[i] the Complainant applied for an electric motor connection and deposited Rs. 510/- vide receipt dated 12.02.1987.[ii] he subsequently deposited Rs. 1000/- vide receipt dated 23.09.1992 [after 5 years 7 months 1 week 4 days (2050 days

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)].[iii] a demand notice dated 26.02.1998 was issued by the Opposite Party for depositing an amount of Rs. 24,000/- as connection fee plus an amount of Rs. 75/- within three months.[iv] the Complainant slept over the demand notice, and did not deposit the requisite amount within the requisite period of three months (or within reasonable period thereafter).[v] the Complainant filed a Complaint before the District Forum on 09.12.2013, after 15 years 9 months 1 week 6 days (5765 days) from the date of the demand notice (i.e. from 26.02.1998).9. The State Commission has rightly concluded that since the Complainant remained silent for about 15 years from the date of issuance of the demand notice till the date of filing of the Complaint, his Complaint is "hopelessly time barred".10. The District Forum erred in overlooking that the Complaint was bitterly barred by limitation.11. The State Commission has passed a well-appraised and well-reasoned Order. No jurisdictional error or legal principle ignored or miscarriage of justice is evident, as may require interference in the exercise of the revisional jurisdiction of this Commission.12. The revision petition, being misconceived and devoid of merit, is dismissed.
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