C VISWANATH,J. -
(1.) The present Revision Petition has been filed by the Petitioner against order dated 03.12.2010 passed by the State Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission, Gujarat (for short "State Commission") in First Appeal No. 151 of 2009 whereby the Appeal filed by the Petitioner was dismissed.
(2.) Case of the Complainant/Petitioner was that Complainant had applied for allotment of shed pursuant to the advertisement of Opposite Party No.-1.The Complainant made an application dated 05.04.1999 along with an amount of Rs.15,000/- by way of Demand Draft .The Complainant was allotted Shed No. L/278/6 at Pandesara, Surat, vide allotment letter dated 18.09.1999. The Complainant paid an amount of Rs.1,76,000/- towards allotment of the shed as initial payment. The Complainant was informed that he would get electricity connection from the Gujarat Electricity Board in due course. The transfer of possession of the allotted shed was made, vide letter dated 14.10.1999. Opposite Party No.3 informed the Complainant, vide letter dated 30.06.2000, that the previous allottee of the shed was due Rs.1,26,479/- to the Gujarat Electricity Board towards electricity charges. The Complainant, vide letter dated 17.09.2001, intimated Opposite Party No.-2 that dues were also pending towards municipal tax of Surat Municipal Corporation. The Complainant requested Opposite Party No. 1 to clear both the outstanding dues and issue clear title of the Shed. Since no action was taken by Opposite Party No. 1 and 2, the Complainant filed a Complaint before the District Forum with the following Prayer: -
"a) The Hon'ble forum by holding the respondent in the present case jointly and severally, get to me the electricity connection immediately and by getting recovered the amount due and payable by the previous party towards electricity consumption bill, municipal tax etc. and the possession of the said shed with clear title may please be given and if the respondent should pay to the complainant an amount of Rs.1,72,000/- and Rs. 4000/- totaling to 1,76,000/- with interest at the date of 18% per annum.Also an order may please be passed that the possession of the said shed afresh from the respondent No.1 to the complainant and also to pass an order to waive the installment of the loan taken from the respondent as business activity could not commence.
1.An order may please be passed that the respondent should pay to the complainant and amount of Rs.75,000/- with interest as the complainant, as stated in the complaint could not commence the business of making cupboard furniture.
2.To award an amount of Rs. 5000/- towards the cost of this complaint application.
3. Taking into the facts of the complaint of the complainant in its entirety any other and specific relief may please be granted."
(3.) The case was contested by Opposite Party No. 1 and 2 before the District Forum. It was contended that the Consumer Complaint was not maintainable as the Complainant was not a Consumer of the Opposite Parties. On merits, Opposite Parties stated that an Agreement for the said shed was executed between the Parties on 18.09.1999. On receipt of payment of Rs.1,60,000/-, the Opposite Parties handed over possession of the shed to the Complainant. The Complainant, however, did not inform about the dues of electricity bills and Municipal taxes. When the Complainant applied for electricity connection, the Gujarat Electricity Board, Pandesara refused to give connection on the ground that certain dues remained payable. Opposite Parties submitted that they there was no deficiency in service on their part and prayed for dismissal of the Complaint. The District Forum ordered as follows: -
1.OP No.1 and OP No.2 herein jointly and /or severally should pay to the complainant in the present case, with reference to the industrial shed in question the amount of Rs.1,76,000/-(Rupees one lakh seventy-six thousand only) paid to the opponent along with simple interest at the rate of 9% per annum on the said amount from the date of complaint till its realization.
2.The opponent No.1 and 2 herein, jointly and/or severally should pay to the complainant in the present case an amount of Rs.5000/-towards the mental harassment and cost of the complainant.
3.The complainant is not held to be entitled to get the special relief sought for vide para-7 of the complainant.
4.In the present case, the complaint against the OP No.3 and 4 is hereby dismissed.
5.The cost of the Complainant may be borne by the opponent themselves.
6.The opponent should implement and execute this order, within 30 days from the date on which this order is passed.
7.The true copy of this order may be provided to all the parties free of cost.
1. Aggrieved by the order of the District Forum, Respondent No. 1 and 2 filed an Appeal before the State Commission. After hearing the Learned Counsels for the Parties and perusing the record, the State Commission held that the District Forum had not discussed the agreement for sale and set aside the order of the District Forum with the following order: -
2.Appeal of the Appellant Gujarat Industrial Development Corporation is hereby allowed.
3.The judgement delivered by the Consumer Dispute Redressal Forum (Additional), Surat dated 12 January 2009 in Complaint No. 526/2001 hereby set aside
4.No order as to the cost of the appeal is passed.
5.As per the submission made by the learned advocate of the Appellant an amount of Rupees 50,000 as per the order of the Commission in Consumer Dispute Redressal Forum (Additional) Surat then in that regard after verification, If the amount is deposited then the account payee cheque for the said amount along with whatever interest that accrued on it be given to the learned advocate appearing on behalf of Gujarat Industrial Development Corporation, The Appellant herein.
1.Aggrieved by the order of the State Commission, the Petitioner/Complainant preferred the present Revision Petition before this Commission.
2.Heard the Learned Counsel for both the Parties and carefully perused the record. The Learned Counsel for the Petitioner submitted that the previous allottee of the shed had not paid substantial amount of Electricity Bill as well as Municipal tax. The Petitioner, vide letter dated 17.09.2001, requested the Respondent to clear the dues which they failed to recover from the previous allottee. The Petitioner, therefore, was not able to get the electricity connection for the above mentioned shed. Consequently the Petitioner was not able to pay further amount to Respondent No.-1 due to delay in the commencement of his business.
3.Learned Counsel for Respondent No.-1 and 2 submitted that the answering Respondent No.-1 is a Corporation established under Section-3 of Gujarat Industrial Development Act 1962 and Respondent No.-2 is the Regional Office ofRespondent No.-1, The Petitioner was allotteda shed on the basis of application dated 05.04.1999. The Petitioner was merely an allottee by virtue of allotment letter and had to pay the price of the super structure of the shed and premium of land on which the shed was built. The Petitioner obtained the shed for starting Cup-Board Furniture factory/industry for commercial purpose. The provisions of the Consumer Protection Act, 1986, therefore, would not be applicable in the present case. The Learned Counsel submitted that electricity dues constitute a charge on the premises and applicable rules require such payment to be binding on the purchaser.
4.Admitted facts of the case are that the Petitioner had applied for allotment of shed pursuant to the advertisement of Respondent No.1. Petitioner submitted an application dated 05.04.1999 along with a Demand Draft for Rs.15,000/- and was allotted Shed No.L/278/6 at Pandesara, Surat, vide allotment letter dated 18.09.1999. The Petitioner paid an amount of Rs.1,76,000/- towards allotment of the shed, as an initial payment. The Petitioner was informed that he would be able to get connection from the Gujarat Electricity Board in due course. After the transfer of possession of the allotted shed ,vide letter dated 14.10.1999, the Petitioner came to know, vide letter dated 30.06.2000, from Respondent No.-3 that the previous allottee of the shed had to pay Rs.1,26,479/- to the Gujarat Electricity Board for the shed purchased by him. The Petitioner, vide letter dated 17.09.2001 intimated Respondent No.-2 that dues of previous allottee were also pending towards the municipal tax of Surat Municipal Corporation. The Petitioner requested Respondent No.2 to clear outstanding dues of the previous allottee and to issue clear title of the Shed. Due to failure of Respondent No-1 to pay the requisite dues of the previous allottee, the Petitioner suffered financial loss due to non-commencement of his industry/business, which led to his failure to pay dues on time. Regional Manager, GIDC, as competent officer under the Gujarat Public Premises (Eviction of Unauthorized Occupant) Act, 1972 (referred to as "GPP Act" for short) passed eviction order on 8.02 .2007 under section-4 (i) of GPP Act. Aggrieved by the above, the Petitioner preferred a Complaint before the District Forum alleging deficiency in service.
5.The District forum allowed the Complaint on grounds of deficiency in service by Respondent No. 1 and 2 for not returning the amount of Rs.1,76,000/- paid for the shed allotted by the Opposite Parties. Order of the District Forum was set aside by the State Commission on the ground that the District Forum had not considered the agreement for the sale. Aggrieved by the order of the State Commission the present Revision Petition has been filed by the Complainant before this Commission.
6.Offer letter No. GIDC/RM/SRT/ALT/3345 dated 27.07.1999 clearly states: -
"9.The allotment will be subject to the terms and conditions of allotment as may be mentioned in the allotment letter and agreement."
1.I have gone through the allotment letter and the agreement and found that there is no express provision which mentioned that the purchaser of the premises had to pay electricity dues of the previous allottee. The Respondents also have not placed on record any evidence authorizing them to demand arrears of the previous allottee. In the absence of there being any specific statutory provision or clause in the Sale Agreement, the allottee cannot be compelled to clear the dues of the previous allottee. Dues relating to electricity charges cannot be enforced against the next allottee i.e. Petitioner.
2.Hon'ble Supreme Court in Haryana State Electricity Board vs. M/s Hamuman Rice Mills Dhanauri and Ors. in Civil Appeal No. 6817 of 2010 decided on 20.08.2010 held that "electricity arrears do not constitute a charge over the property. Therefore in general law, a transferee of a premises cannot be made liable for the dues of the previous owner/ occupier. Where the statutory rules or terms and conditions of supply which are statutory in character, authorize the supplier of electricity, to demand from the purchaser of a property claiming re-connection or fresh connection of electricity, the arrears due by the previous owner/occupier in regard to supply of electricity to such premises, the supplier can recover the arrears from a purchaser." Hon'ble Supreme Court in Ahmedabad Electricity Co. Ltd. vs. Gujarat Inns. Pvt. Ltd. and Ors. in Civil Appeal No.1691 of 1999 decided on 16.03.2004 held "We are clearly of the opinion that in case of a fresh connection though the premises are the same, the auction purchasers cannot be held liable to clear the arrears incurred by the previous owners in respect of power supply to the premises in the absence of there being a specific statutory provision in that regard."
3.In view of the above, order of the State Commission cannot be sustained and is accordingly set aside and order of the District Forum is upheld. Revision Petition is disposed accordingly with no order as to cost. ;