August 13, 2016 2:43:24 pm
Madras High Court bench on Saturday ruled that Tamilnadu Generation and Distribution Corporation (TANGEDCO) cannot demand consumption charges along with penalty if a consumer is found guilty of stealing power, without issuing provisional assessment order and eliciting views of the accused.
Justice S S Sundar, allowing a petition, said clause 23AA of Tamil Nadu Electricity Supply Code, 2004, stated that the authorised officer must assess the quantum of consumption as per a formula provided in the code and prepare a provisional assessment order at two times of the tariff applicable to the consumer in case of theft.
Besides the provisional assessment order should be served on the consumer within five days of inspection. It should clearly state the time, date and place at which a written reply to the assessment order should be submitted and the designation and address of the officer to whom the reply should be addressed within seven days.
If the accused did not respond within seven working days then consumption charges and penalty at the rate specified in the code, could be recovered.
On the other hand, if a reply is submitted within this period, the authorised officer should ask the consumer to appear in person for a hearing within three days.
The officer should study the energy consumption pattern of the service connection concerned and drop further proceedings if it was commensurate with the provisionally assessed consumption. He should hear the accused and then pass a final assessment order within 15 days.
In the present case, the Assistant Executive Engineer (distribution) at Singampunari in Sivaganga district had directly passed a final assessment order, demanding Rs 1.15 lakh from the owner of a flour mill on charges of theft bypassing the electric meter, the judge said and quashed the assessment order.
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