Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Gujarat Vij Co Ltd (MGVCL) two officer fined for adding house rent to power bill

A consumer court has fined two officials of an electricity company for adding rental arrears to the electricity bill of a retired employee who was not vacating the company's quarter in Vadodara.

Dilip Raje retired from Madhya Gujarat Vij Co Ltd (MGVCL) in 2004, but he did not vacate the house allotted to him in Tarsali's colony. The company tried hard to vacate the quarter but failed. The company took police help but that did not help. Moreover, Raje did not even pay the rents after his retirement.

Fed up with the court cases with Raje, in 2008, MGVCL decided to extract the rents and came up with an idea to charge it in Raje's electricity bill. In four years, Raje had defaulted in paying rents of total Rs 1.38 lakh. In September 2008, Raje got an electricity bill of Rs 1.38 lakh for just 26 units consumed in last two months. He offered to pay Rs 152 towards the electricity bill. But MGVCL told him that he would have to pay Rs 1.38 lakh or else the power supply to his house would be snapped.

Raje moved the consumer forum in Vadodara, which quashed MGVCL's decision to charge rentals in the electricity bill, and asked the company to pay Rs 5,000 to Raje towards compensation. The forum also fined the electricity company Rs 50,000, asking it to deposit the amount with the Consumer Welfare Fund.

An aggrieved MGVCL approached the Gujarat State Consumer Dispute Redressal Commission. But the commission too felt that the electricity company did not have any right to extract the house rents through electricity bills.

The commission, however, opined that fining the company for the blunder committed by its officials would burden the public exchequer only. Hence the official who instructed to resort to the technique of extracting rentals through electricity bill and the one who implemented it should be made to pay from their pockets.

The commission canceled the fine of Rs 50,000 imposed on MGVCL, and ordered to deduct Rs 15,000 from the salaries of the two officials who had come up with this novel idea. The commission said, "This decision was arbitrary, and this is even more serious an offence than filing a false complaint. Hence exemplary action should be taken against those responsible."

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