BetweenSmt. P.Khustarunnisa BegumC/o P.Siyakhat AlikhanD.No.34/140, Mahaboob Basha StreetS.N.Colony, Rayachoti 1. Assistant Accounts Officer / ERO / Rayachoti2. Assistant Divisional Engineer / Operation / Rayachoti3. Divisional Engineer / Operation / Rayachoti4. Accounts Officer / Revenue / CO / Kadapa This representation dated 11-11-2006 (received on 13-11-2006) of Smt. P.Khustarunnisa Begum (herein after called as consumer or appellant) against the order dated 20-10-2006 of the Forum for redressal of grievances of consumers (herein after called the Forum or CGRF) in CG No. 69 / 206-07 (Kadapa circle), coming up before the Ombudsman for consideration and having stood over till this day, the Ombudsman issues the following 2. The facts on record in this case are briefly narrated herein. The consumer was having
domestic service connection No. 2742 at Rayachoti since 1977. The Rayachoti area is under the licenced area of the Rural Electric Supply Co-operative Society (RESCO) till 31-12-2004. (The RESCO was merged with SPDCL with effect from 01-01-2005). The service was inspected by the ADE / DPE – I / Cuddapah of SPDCL on 20-07-2004, and made an observation that the consumer meddled the meter for suppressing consumption and hence pilferage of energy occurred. The consumer contested this finding in the appropriate forums without success. The consumer also filed a compliant before the CGRF, SPDCL , Tirupathi on 25-09-2006. As the CGRF is not expected to deal with the cases pertaining to theft of electricity (for which separate mechanism was available) the learned Forum considered the complaint to the extent whether this matter was earlier settled by the Mega Lok-Adalat held on 08-11-2004 and whether the notices of the appropriate officers were served to the consumer, etc., and held that the case is not settled in the Mega Lok-Adalat held on 08-11-2004. Hence the appeal.
3. At the out set it is necessary to clarify at this stage itself that the Ombudsman is not
empowered to take up appeals on matters including theft of electricity covered under parts X, XI, XII, XIV and XV of the Electricity Act 2003, as per clause 8 (1) (a) of Regulation No 1 of 2004 of Hon’ble APERC . The matter in this appeal falls under part XIV of the Act. Thus, the examination of this appeal will be limited only to the aspects other than whether a theft of electricity has occurred or not, and not on the substantive issues of theft case.
4. As per clause 8 (1) (c) of the Regulation No. 1 of 2004 of the Hon’ble APERC , in the first
instance, the Ombudsman is required to endeavour to promote settlement by mutual agreement between the parties and accordingly a notice was issued on 21-11-2006to arrive at a settlement by 18-12-2006, and if no settlement has been possible, the respondents were required to file their counters by 30-12-2006 with a copy to the appellant and the appellant was required to file the rejoinder if any by 10-01-2007 with copy to the respondents. As no settlement was reached, the respondent No. 2 filed the counter in his letter dated 19-12-2006. The appellant filed the rejoinder on 04-01-2007. By notice dated 26-12-2006 the hearing was fixed on 05-02-2007 in the office of APERC at Hyderabad, and later re-scheduled to 03-02-2007 in the office of SE / O / Kadapa by notice dated 01-02-2007.
5. In the counter dated 19-12-2006, the respondent No. 3 has stated that during the course of
Adalath, on 08-11-2004, the issues of theft of electricity cases have taken on to the count, but not settled on account of inability expressed by the officials of electricity department to initiate further proceedings without proper approval of higher authorities. Hence the cases related to pilferage / theft are kept aside and with drawn from the scope of the Adalath. He furnished a copy of the letter signed by the Chairman, Mandal legal services Committee–cum-service Civil Judge, Rayachoti confirming that no such case of theft in respect of SC No. 2742 of Rayachoti was settled before the Mega Lok-Adalath on 08-11-2004 as per records maintained in the Committee.
6. In the rejoinder dated 04-01-2007, the appellant raised the issue of jurisdiction of the
officials of the DISCOM (SPDCL ) in the area of the Rural Electric Supply Co-operative Society (RESCO) of Rayachoti, and stated that the inspection conducted on 20-07-2004 appears to be purely obligatory (and not mandatory). The appellant strongly contested the various aspects in respect of the proceedings of the various authorities concerned with the theft case, which are outside the purview of Ombudsman as explained in para 3 above. Hence these have not been 7. During the hearing held on 03-02-2007 at Kadapa, the Ombudsman explained to the parties
the constraints on consideration of theft cases by Ombudsman. The appellant, represented by Sri. Reddy Khan, husband of the appellant, raised the issues of jurisdiction of SPDCL and also the settlement by the Mega Lok-Adalat on 08-11-2004. He said that though the Adalat did not issue the award, the acceptance of payment of Rs. 5000/- by the Accounts Officer of the RESCO is a clear proof of settlement. He has drawn my attention to the receipt No. 942 dated 08-11-2004 issued by the Accounts Officer of the RESCO wherein it was written that the said amount was received on account of final settlement by Lok-Adalat. He also questioned jurisdiction of the officials of the SPDCL (DISCOM) to inspect the services in the area of the RESCO, and wanted know whether the RESCO requested them to conduct inspection in their area.

8. Sri. Suresh, DE / Operation / Rayachoti, (respondent No. 3) has stated during the hearing
that there are instructions of APTRANSCO authorising the officials of DISCOMs to conduct inspections in the areas of RESCOs located with in licenced areas of the DISCOM. He promised to furnish copies of the same.

In the background of the above facts on record, the limited issue for consideration by
(a) whether the SPDCL officials have jurisdiction to inspect the services for detection of pilferage of energy in the area of RESCO of Rayachoti? (b) Whether the acceptance of the payment proposed settlement amount by one party pending award by the adalat binds the party for settlement even if the award is not 10. The respondent No. 3 has stated in his letter dated 21-02-2007, that the
SPDCL used to inspect the services under RESCO area and book cases of theft or malpractice based on requisition made by RESCO authorities from time to time. He also furnished copy of the letter dated 21-02-2007 written by Sri. K. Sadasiva Raju, Ex-Managing Director of erstwhile RESCO Rayachoti, confirming the above practice. The respondent No. 3 did not produce any written requisition made by the erstwhile RESCO, Rayachoti for the inspection conducted on 20-07-2004, or in any earlier period.
11. However, it is clear from the above that the RESCO authorities have been using the
services of the DPE wings of DISCOMs, which is a specialized organization in detection of theft of electricity. Thus if the DPE officials conduct the inspections at the request of RESCO officials, it cannot be treated as un-authorised or without jurisdiction. In this case, the provisional assessment notice was issued by the official of the RESCO (Additional Divisional Engineer / Operation / Rayachoti) on 31-07-2004. Further the RESCO officials have also participated in the proceedings before the Mega Lok-Adalath on 08-11-2004. From this it can be reasonably inferred that the inspection was done by the DPE officials of SPDCL at the instance of the RESCO officials. As explained above this is a specialised activity requiring certain expertise and hence the action of the RESCO in requisitioning the services of the special organisation (DPE unit) of the DISCOM cannot be questioned, more so when these officers are authorized by the State Government under section 135 (2) of the Electricity Act 2003, vide G.O.Ms No. 145 dated 31-12-2003 as amended in G.O. RT No. 70 dated 10-03-2004. I am therefore of the view that the inspection done by the officials of SPDCL in the area of RESCO for the purpose of detecting theft of electricity cannot be invalidated on the ground of jurisdiction when it was done at the instance of officials of RESCO.

The next issue is about the acceptance of payment of the amount of Rs. 5000 by the
RESCO in the course of proceedings before the Mega Lok-Adalat on 08-11-2004. The appellant contends that the receipt dated 08-11-2004, issued by Accounts Officer / RESCO contains the matter that the amount received is towards final settlement by settlement. He also contends that backing out by the respondents is illegal. However, it is to be noted here that the Chairman Mandal legal services Committee-cum-Senior Civil Judge, Rayachoti confirmed in letter dated 06-10-2006, addressed to the Assistant Accounts Officer / ERO, Rayachoti, (respondent No. 1) that no such case was settled before the Mega on 08-11-2004. In the face of such written confirmation, I am unable to accept the contention of the Appellant about the binding liability for settlement on account of acceptance of payment by the officials of RESCO during the course of deliberation in the Mega Lok-Adalat on 08-11-2004.
13. Concluding the above discussion I decide the following award in this appeal. The
inspection of SC No. 2742, Rayachoti by the DPE officials of SPDCL on 20-07-2004 cannot be considered as un-authorised or without jurisdiction. Acceptance of payment of Rs. 5000/- by the officials of RESCO, Rayachoti during the proceedings at Mega Lok-Adalat on 08-11-2004, does not find the RESCO for the settlement in the absence of record of settlement by the Accordingly the appeal is dismissed. No costs. 14. Reasons for delay in Award.

There is a delay of about 3 weeks over the specified period of 3 months as per in
Regulation No. 1 of 2004 of Hon’ble APERC for issue of award by the Ombudsman. The delay has occurred mainly due to the schedule of the work as the Secretary, APERC in conducting public hearings on the ARR / Tariff proposals of DISCOMs in January 2004. No one is responsible This Order is signed by me on the 5th day of March 2007

Source: http://www.aperc.gov.in/Ombudsman/earlier/Order_29_2006.pdf

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