Electricity shall be supplied when the applicant is the occupier of the premises: Himachal Pradesh High Court

The Distribution Licensee of electricity is empowered to and has the power to supply electricity to an applicant who is not the owner but an occupier of the property vide irrespective of the objections of the neighbors or the owner itself. This judgment was passed in the case of Leela Devi vs. H.P. State Electricity Board Ltd. & Others [CWP No. 1149/2021] by a Single Bench consisting of Hon’ble Shri Justice Vivek Singh Thakur.

The petitioner in the present case, approached the court since the respondents did not provide electricity even after the deposit of Rs. 10, 800. The petitioner is however not the owner of the land. The petitioner contends that irrespective of the same, she is entitled to electricity connection vide Article 21 of the Indian Constitution. The petitioner stated that she is entitled to the connection vide the Electricity Act, 2003 and the Himachal Pradesh Electricity Regulatory Commission (HPERC) Regulations, 2004 which states the applicant also includes the occupier of any premises who files an application to the distribution licensee for supply for electricity. The petitioner also relied on the case of Madan Lal vs. State of H.P. and others [CWP No. 2454/2018] which directed the supplier to provide water and electricity despite the petitioner was facing encroachment proceedings under section 163 of the H.P. Land Revenue Act for eviction.

The respondents opposed the petition on the ground that the petitioner has an alternative remedy for redressal of grievance before the HPERC under the HPERC Regulations and the Electricity Act. They also contended that the Madan Lal case wouldn’t apply since there is no issue of title in the present case and the land that the petitioner belongs to is government land. The respondents also clarified that they were going to lay down a service connection for the petitioner but while laying down the wire it was opposed by the neighbors.

The Hon’ble High Court after hearing the parties, on the basis of the definition of the applicant under regulation 3 of HPERC Regulations and section 43 of the Electricity Act held that it is the duty of the distribution licensee to supply electricity to an occupier/owner of the premises after completion of all formalities which included the payment of deposit. The argument of the respondent that the neighbors opposed would also not stand on the basis of section 164 of the electricity act and Part III of the Indian Telegraph Act, 1885 which provides power authority to the public officer or licensee or any person engaged in supplying electricity to lay down electric lines for establishing or maintaining telegraph lines.

Furthermore, the rule 3(1) of Works of Licensees Rule, 2006 the licensee is empowered to laid down the necessary supply line and in case of objection from the owner or occupier of the land to approach the district magistrate or commission or police or any other office authorized by the state government for carrying out the aforesaid work. The High Court also emphasized that there is no statutory bar on the High Court to entertain the writ petition under article 226 of the Indian constitution in matters which particularly violate the fundamental rights of the petitioner.

The Hon’ble High Court concluded by holding, “Respondent are directed to ensure release and providing of electricity connection to the petitioner on or before 10th June, 2021.”

Click here for the Judgment.

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