AMBIKA COLD STORAGE Vs. STATE
HIGH COURT OF CALCUTTA
AMBIKA COLD STORAGE
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(1.) THE petitioner firm is the owner of a Cold Storage situated at Memari in the district of Burdwan and is a consumer of the West Bengal State Electricity Board. The subject matter of challenge in this writ application is a notice under section 24 of the indian Electricity Act, 1910 dated the 6th May, 1983 issued by the Divisional engineer (COML), Burdwan O and M Circle, West Bengal State Electricity Board, threatening to disconnect electric supply to the petitioner's cold storage for alleged non-payment of bill for the month of March, 1983. This application has been heard with notice to the respondents who have appeared through Mr. Samir Kumar Mukherjee and Mr. S. N. Biswas. I record that although the respondents have not filed any affidavit-in-opposition they do not admit any of the allegations made in the writ application.
(2.) THE petitioner's case is that the meter installed by the West Bengal State Electricity Board at the petitioner's premises was defective and inspite of complaints made it was not replaced upto the point of time when the aforesaid notice under section 24 of the Indian Electricity Act 1910 was issued. I do not propose to decide whether or not the electric meter installed in the petitioner's premises which has been recently replaced and correctly recorded consumption of electricity by the petitioner and whether the correct reading of the meter was done before the respondent No. 4 demanded payment of the aforesaid bill from the petitioner.
(3.) THE petitioner and the West Bengal State Electricity Board had entered into an agreement for supply of high voltage energy and sitting in writ jurisdiction I am not prepared to entertain disputes relating to the bills for alleged consumption of electricity by the petitioner because both parties have prima-facie alternative remedies available to them for determination of- their claims and contentions. Mr. Mukherjee appearing on behalf of the State Electricity board drew any attention to clause 13 (3) of the aforesaid agreement between the parties according to which in the event a meter is found defective and a check meter is not installed, energy consumption during the period when the meter was deemed to be defective shall be determined by taking an average consumption and other para meters for the preceding three months or during any previous or subsequent period that may be reasonably comparable. My attention has been also drawn to clause 27 of the agreement between the Board and the consumer relating to any of the matters in the agreement shall be referable to two arbitrators, one to be appointed by each party to the dispute and the provision of the Arbitration Act apply to such arbitration in all other respects. Therefore, in the event the petitioner has any grievance about the bills demanded by the Board it is open to both parties to obtain a reference to their disputes and differences to arbitration in the' manner provided in clause 27 of the Agreement. I, however, am by no means unmindful of the inaction and passivity on the part of the Board and its officers to promptly attend to complaints lodged by consumers regarding defects in' the meters etc. or about incorrectness of the bills issued to them. Partly because of such attitude on the part of the Board the consumers are compelled to seek extraordinary remedy under- Article 226 of the Constitution. In my view as already observed, ordinarily the parties ought to avail of the remedy provided under the Agreement between them. To enable them to do so and to preserve their rights in any future proceedings between the parties in any future proceedings between the parties, I propose to grant for limited period the following interim order.;
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