The writ appeal stands allowed by HIGH COURT OF MADHYA PRADESH AT INDORE in the case of MADHYA PRADESH PASHCHIM KSHETRA VIDYUT VITRAN COMPANY LIMITED V. MARAL OVERSEAS LIMITED through HON’BLE JUSTICE VIVEK RUSIA
FACTS OF THE CASE
The respondent/writ petitioner is a High-Tension Consumer of the appellants which is governed under the provisions of the Indian Electricity Act, 2003 as well as M.P. Electricity Supply Code, 2013. Vide order dated 09.06.2020, the Superintending Engineer (O & M), M.P.P.K.V.V.CL., Khargone Circle under Clause 11.2 of M.P. Electricity Supply Code, 2013 granted the benefit of reduced CD from April 2020 to May 2020 because of the lockdown during COVID – 19 Pandemic. Vide letter dated 01.07.2020, the Superintending Engineer, High Tension (Billing Cell), Indore has informed that on 12.06.2020 maximum consumption i.e., 8108 KVA was recorded which is in violation of point No.7 of a letter dated 13.05.2020. After examining the matter, the Superintending Engineer, High Tension (Billing Cell), Indore has held that the writ petitioner was ineligible to get the benefit of reduced CD under clause 11.2 of the M.P. Electricity Supply Code, 2013 and recalled the order dated 26.05.2020. After issuance of notice in the writ petition, the appellants/respondents have filed a reply raising a preliminary objection about the maintainability of the writ petition for want of availability of alternative remedy before M.P. Electricity Consumer Grievance Redressal Forum established under Section 42(5) r/w MPERC (Establishment of Forum and Electricity Ombudsman for Redressal of Grievance of the Consumer) Regulations, 2009. It is further submitted that Clause 11.13 of the M.P. Electricity Supply Code, 2013 provides that in case of any dispute in meaning or scope or interpretation of the Code, the interpretation of the Commission i.e., MPERC shall be final and binding on all the concerned.
The learned Single Judge after placing reliance on Clause 11.15 has held that the writ petition is maintainable before the High Court. We are not agreeing with the aforesaid view taken by the learned Single Judge because Clause 11.15 is only in respect of the territorial jurisdiction of the High Court to entertain all the disputes arising out of the M.P. Electricity Supply Code, 2013 or the agreement made thereunder within the jurisdiction of the High Court. The expression ‘all the proceedings arising out of the Code or agreement’ means all the proceedings undertaken by the Electricity Regulatory Commission. So far as the judgment passed by the Apex Court in the case of Magadh Sugar & Energy Limited is concerned, the issue of alternative remedy has been considered by the Apex Court and it has been held that the State Government does not have the power to levy taxes on the sale of electricity to BSEB and it was not the case of the appellant that the respondent has miscalculated the duty and penalty imposed on it in these circumstances. It has been held that the High Court can exercise its writ jurisdiction if the order of authority is challenged for want of authority and jurisdiction which is a pure question of law. With utmost respect to the above verdict, the Madhya Pradesh Electricity Regulatory Commission is the competent forum and expert authority in the field to give correct interpretation of Clauses of M.P. Electricity Supply Code, 2013. The commission can examine the issue about the entitlement of the benefit of reduced supply to the petitioner and the act of the respondent withdrawing the said benefits. MPERC is a special authority constituted under the Indian Electricity Act as well as the M.P. Electricity Supply Code to decide the dispute between the consumer and the licensee / Company under the M.P. Electricity Supply Code 2013. Hence, the impugned order dated 06.01.2022 is set aside. Consequently, the writ petition stands dismissed. The writ appeal stands allowed, with no order as to cost.
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JUDGEMENT REVIEWED BY SHREYA NIDHI