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[Covid-19]: Delhi HC directs BSES to restore electricity, disconnected due to default in payment

The Delhi High Court on April 20, 2020 {VIPIN VIG v. BSES RAJDHANI POWER LIMITED & ANR.} held that the electricity charges payment defaults being admitted, under normal circumstances, the Petitioner would not have been entitled to any relief. However, it was held that after the announcement of the lock-down, it is clear that the Petitioner’s family, consisting of children and grand-children, would suffer immensely if electricity is not restored. It was observed that considering the current lock-down situation and the fact that the Petitioner would be even unable to arrange any funds, it is of the opinion that it can be quite difficult for a family to stay without electricity.

In the present case, the Petitioner had chronically defaulted in making the payment of electricity dues. The first award of the Permanent Lok Adalat-II (in short, “PLA”) dated 4th February, 2020 records the Petitioner’s consent to make payment of Rs.3,76,000/- in full and final settlement of the electricity bill of Rs. 4,67,630/-, on or before 28th February, 2020. However, due to the Petitioner’s default in making the said payment, the matter was again considered by the PLA. The award was modified and the Petitioner was permitted to pay a sum of Rs.4,00,000/- as full and final settlement, on or before 15th March, 2020. The Petitioner defaulted in making the said payment as well.

As a sequitur, due to lock-down, the High Court extended the time for the Petitioner to make the payment of Rs. 4 lakhs, as per the following schedule: (i) Rs.1 lakh on or before 30th April, 2020. (ii) Rs.1 lakh on or before 30th May, 2020. (iii) Rs.2 lakhs on or before 15th July, 2020. However, it was also observed that if the schedule as fixed now is not adhered to, Respondent No.1 is free to disconnect the electricity and take steps to recover the complete dues, without taking into consideration the awards passed by the PLA, in accordance with law. The petition was disposed of by the HC in above terms.

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