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Consumer panel's order stayed

Staff Reporter

Power distribution companies file petition in High Court


  • Court issues notice to the Commission
  • `Press expected to report the court proceedings'

    NEW DELHI: The Delhi High Court on Tuesday stayed the operation of Monday's orders of the State Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission restraining the power distribution companies from billing power consumers here on the basis of readings of electronic meters.

    Justice Pradeep Nandrajog stayed the operation of the orders on petitions filed by the power distributions companies submitting that the Commission does not have the superintending powers, which are vested in a court exercising jurisdiction under Article 226 of the Constitution.

    The Court also issued a notice to the Commission asking it to file a reply to the petitions by January 19, 2006.

    Taking suo motu cognisance of a news item which said that a Court-appointed expert had opined that the electronic meter is designed in such a way that it records excessive reading, the Commission's president Justice J.D. Kapoor had also directed that the consumers could pay on the basis of six months' average of the billing before installation of the electronic meters.

    Mr. Justice Kapoor had further directed that the power distribution companies could not disconnect power connections should the consumers chose to pay in this fashion.

    Staying the orders, Justice Nandrajog said: "Considering the sweep of the orders passed by the Commission, if not stayed, it would dry up the resources of the power supply companies and would render the existing metering and billing procedures redundant, till the present order is vacated or modified.''

    "It is hereby directed that there shall be a stay of operation of the impugned order passed by the respondent (Commission). Additionally, further proceedings pursuant to the case shall remain stayed before the respondent (Commission) till further order,'' the stay order said.

    The High Court is at present hearing a petition relating to electronic meters, their specifications, alleged excessive recording and the right of electricity supply companies to replace electro-magnetic meters with electronic metres.

    Commenting on the news item, Mr. Justice Nandrajog said the Court had passed no order appointing anyone as an expert to assist it, as the news item had made it to be.

    "It is unfortunate that the news item reported that a Court-appointed expert had thrown light on the subject, much less of a conclusive nature from which an inference could be drawn that the meters installed by the power supply companies are either designed deliberately or do not record correctly,'' Mr. Justice Nandrajog said.

    "It is expected of the press to report court proceedings with accuracy should it feels that a matter of public importance is being dealt with by the court,'' Mr. Justice Nandrajog suggested.

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