This revision petition seeks to challenge the order dated 15.12.2009 of the Haryana State Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission, Panchkula (in short, ?the State Commission?) in First Appeal 1166 of 2002. By this order, the State Commission set aside the order of the District Consumer Disputes Redressal Forum, Faridabad (in short, ?the District Forum?) observing that this was a case of theft of electric energy and the respondent (Haryana State Electricity Board ? hereafter, ?the Board?) could not be made to suffer financial loss due to such theft committed by the complainant.
2. The case of the petitioner/complainant is that he had leased out his factory premises in Ballabhgarh, Faridabad to one Udey Bir Singh. The petitioner/complainant had obtained the electric connection to the said premises in his own name. The bills for consumption of electricity raised by the Board were paid by the lessee in the name of the complainant. The lessee, however, committed default in payment of electricity bills in July 1996. On 22.08.1996, the factory was inspected by a team of officers of the Board, which on verification of the electric meter and the installed equipment/machinery, found that the seals of the meter had been tampered with (one seal was without impression and the other was broken) and as against the sanctioned load of 12.997 KW, the connected load at the factory was 32.953 KW. Further, the requisite capacitor had also not been installed. Though two representatives of the complainant were present during the inspection, they refused to sign the inspection report prepared on the spot. As a sequel to the inspection, the Board issued provisional assessments for unauthorised drawal of energy, unauthorised load and capacitor charges - in all, amounting to Rs.2,56,080/-. This led the complainant to file a consumer complaint before the District Forum, Faridabad on 30.08.1996. By a very brief (and misconceived) order dated 03.04.2002 (reflecting lack of appreciation of facts and the law), the District Forum set aside the assessment of penalty issued by the Board. As noticed above, in appeal by the Board, this order of the District Forum was set aside by the State Commission against which the complainant has come up in revision.
3. We have heard the counsel for the petitioner/complainant. At the stage of admission and on request of the counsel for the petitioner, we granted opportunity to file (i) a copy of the complaint filed before the District Forum; (ii) the relevant circulars of the Haryana State Electricity Board requiring presence of the connection holder/consumer at the time of inspection of the premises that was done on the relevant date and (iii) the proof of the person/entity who/which actually paid the electricity bills in respect of the leased part of the premises. On the next date of hearing, a further opportunity was granted to the counsel for the petitioner to file these documents. Till date, these documents have not been filed.
4. Counsel for the petitioner has made strenuous attempts to persuade us that the officials of the Board should have inspected the factory premises in the presence of the petitioner/complainant and also issued a show-cause notice on the proposed provisional assessment of penalties and other charges for alleged unauthorised drawal of electricity, etc. She has, however, nothing to demonstrate that there was any need for a prior notice before inspection or any factual inaccuracy in the findings of the inspecting team regarding tampering of the electricity meter, non-installation of capacitor of requisite specifications and actual connected load being far in excess of the sanctioned load. These findings of the inspection team, headed by an Executive Engineer of the Board, cannot be challenged on mere oral assertions, howsoever vehement. The implications of the refusal of the representatives of the petitioner/complainant to sign the spot inspection report have been appropriately analysed by the State Commission, on the strength of an order of this Commission cited in the impugned order.
5. Therefore, on consideration of the entire gamut of issues and the documents and evidence adduced by the parties before the Fora below, we find no reason to interfere with the order of the State Commission under the provisions
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of section 24(b) of the Consumer Protection Act, 1986. The revision petition is, therefore, dismissed in limine. 6. However, on request, we grant the petitioner liberty to avail of the redressal mechanism under the provisions of sections 126 and 127 of the Electricity Act, 2003 and, in doing so, seek reliance upon the ruling of the Apex Court in the case of Laxmi Engineering Works v P.S.G. Industrial Institute [(1995) 3 SCC 583] in respect of limitation, if so advised.