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M/S Santosh Ispat vs The State Of Jharkhand on 25 April, 2019

1

INTHEHIGHCOURTOFJHARKHANDATRANCHI
W.P.(C)No.4885of2017
——–

M/sSantoshIspat,aproprietorshipfirm,throughitsproprietor,S.K.Pandey,
sonofP.N.Pandey,havingitsfactoryandofficeatMerha,P.S.-Chirkunda,
District-Dhanbad(Jharkhand).

……Petitioner
Versus

1.TheStateofJharkhand.

2.TheElectricalExecutiveEngineer,JharkhandBijliVitranNigamLtd.,
ElectricSupplyDivision,Nirsa-2Dhanbad,P.O.+P.S.Dhanbad

3.TheElectricalsuperintendingEngineerJharkhandBijliVitranNigamLtd.,
Electricsupply,AtP.O.+P.S.Dhanbad.

4.TheGeneralManagercumChiefEngineer,JharkhandBijliVitranNigam
Ltd.,Area,Dhanbad,AtP.O.+P.S.Dhanbad.

5.TheChiefEngineer(CR),JharkhandBijliVitranNigamLtd.,RanchiAt
P.O.+P.S.Dhanbad.

6.JharkhandBijliVitranNigamLimited,throughitsSecretaryatJharkhand
havingit’sofficesatEngineeringBhawanH.E.C.P.O.P.S.atDhurwa,
District-Ranchi.

……Respondents

——-

CORAM:HON’BLEMR.JUSTICESUJITNARAYANPRASAD

——-

ForthePetitioner:Mr.JaiShankarTripathi,Advocate.
FortheRespondent(State):Mr.GautamKumarS.C.-Mines-I
:Mr.SurajPrakash,A.C.toS.C.-Mines-I
FortheRespondentNo.2to6:Mr.MukeshKumarSingh,Sr.S.C.(JUVNL)
:Mr.DheerajKumar,S.C.

—————————-

th
11/Dated25April,2019

1.ThiswritpetitionisfiledunderSectionArticle226oftheConstitutionof
Indiawherebyandwhereundertheorderdated21.07.2017passed
inCaseNo.EOJ04/2017bytheElectricityOmbudsmanwhereby
andwhereundertheappealpreferredbythepetitioneragainstthe
orderdated25.01.2017passedbytheVidyutUpbhokataShikayat
NiwaranForum,Hazaribagh,hereinafterreferredastheForum,has
beendeclinedandtobeentertainedonthegroundthattheappeal
hasbeenfiledafterdelayofthelimitationperiodasprescribed
undertheprovisionofClause14oftheConsumerElectricity
AmendmentAct,2011.

2.Itisthecaseofthepetitionerthattherespondentshaveissued
electricitybillon05.03.2011thereforethesamehasbeensought
tobequashedalongwiththeprayertocompensatethepetitioner
adequatelybydirectingtherespondentstopayRs.1croreby
invokingthejurisdictionconferredtotheForum,whereintheorder
2

wasfinallypassedon25.01.2017bywhichtheforumhassetaside
thebillamountingtoRs.11,18,571.00/-withadirectionuponthe
respondentstorecastthefinalbillbyconsideringthefollowing
anomalies:-

(a)NoticeperiodwillbeframedasperClause7.5SectionofElectrical
SupplyCodeRegulation2005aslaiddownatSl.No.6of
observationofForum

(b)InterestonSecuritydepositberecalculatedasperobservation
ofForumatSl.No.6andshouldbeadjustedinthefinalbillofthe
petitioner.

Ithasbeenobservedthereinthatthepetitionerdoesnot
comeunderthepurviewofClause13oftheagreementasthesaid
clausewillbeapplicableonlywhenguaranteedenergycharge
settled.

3.Thepetitionerbeingdissatisfiedwiththeaforesaidorder,has
invokedthejurisdictionofElectricityOmbudsmanunderthe
provisionofClause30ofthesupplycodebuttheOmbudsmanhas
rejectedtheappealvideorderdated21.07.2017onthegroundof
limitationsincetheappealhasbeenfiledafter106daysfromthe
communicationdated28.01.2017againsttheorderpassedbythe
Forum,Hazaribagh,dated25.01.2017.

4.Learnedcounselforthepetitionerhassubmittedthatthe
Ombudsmanhascommittedgrossillegalityinnotentertainingthe
appealbynotadjudicatingthedisputeonitsmeritratheron
technicality,thesamehasbeendismissedandthereforethesame
needsinterferencebythisCourt.

5.WhileontheotherhandMr.MukeshKumarSinha,learnedcounsel
appearingfortherespondents,hassubmittedthatthatthereisno
errorintheorderpassedbytheOmbudsmansincehebeingthe
quasi-judicialauthorityistofollowtherules/regulationsofthe
guidelinesasstipulatedundertheSupplyCodeinvokedwherein
provisionhasbeenmadetofileanappealwithinaperiodofthirty
dayswhichperiodcanbeextendedforafurtherperiodofthirty
daysbutitshallnotexceedthemaximumperiodofsixtydaysand
hencebeingthequasi-judicialauthority,hasnotentertainedthe
appeal.

6.ThisCourtinordertoadjudicatetheissuedeemitfitandproper
3

torefertheprovisionofClause14oftheSupplyCodewhichreads
hereunderas:-

“Thelicenseeoranyconsumeraggrievedbyanorder
madebytheForum(s)maypreferanappealagainstsuch
ordertotheElectricityOmbudsmanwithinaperiodof
thirtydaysfromthedateofthereceiptoftheorder,in
suchforumandmannerasmaybelaiddowninthese
Regulations.

ProvidedfurtherthattheElectricityOmbudsmanmay
entertainanappealaftertheexpiryofthesaidperiodof
thirtydaysifsufficientcauseisshownfornotfilingthe
appealwithinthatperiod;butnotexceedingamaximum
periodof60daysfromthedateofreceiptoftheorder.
ProvidedfurtherthattheElectricityOmbudsmanshall
entertainnoappealbyanyconsumer,whoisrequiredto
payanyamountintermsofanorderoftheForum,unless
theconsumerhasdepositedintheprescribedmanner,at
leastfiftypercentofthatamount.

ProvidedfurtherthattheElectricityOmbudsmanshall
entertainnoappealbyanyLicensee,whoisrequiredto
payanyamountintermsofanorderoftheForumtothe
Consumer,unlesstheLicenseehasrefundedinthe
prescribedintheprescribedmanner,atleastfiftypercent
oftheamount.”

7.ItisevidentfromtheaforesaidprovisionthattheOmbudsmanhas
beenconferredwiththepowertoentertainanappealiffiledwithin
aperiodof30daysfromthedateofreceiptoftheorder,thesaid
periodof30dayscanbestretchableforafurtherperiodof30days
butthatperiodshallnotexceedthemaximumperiodof60days
fromthedateofreceiptoforder,meaningthereby,the
Ombudsmancanentertaintheappealmaximumiffiledwithina
maximumperiodof60daysandassuchifanyappealwouldbe
filedaftertheperiodof60days,theOmbudsmanwillseizewith
thepowertocondonethedelaysincenotprovidedunderthe
statute.ItneedstoreferherethatiftheOmbudsmanwould
condonethedelayitwouldbesaidtobeexceedingthejurisdiction
sincenotprovidedpowertocondonethedelayevenafterexpiry
oftheperiodof60days.

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8.ItisnotindisputethattheprovisionofClause14oftheSupply
Codehasbeengivenlegalshapeinpursuancetotheprovisionas
containedunderSection181oftheElectricityAct,2003andas
suchtheprovisionascontainedunderClause14oftheCodeis
havingstatutoryforce.

9.TheorderpassedbytheOmbudsmanbywhichhehasdeclinedto
entertaintheappealsincethesamehasbeenfoundtobebarred
bylimitationandassuchitistobeexaminedbythisCourtasto
whethertheOmbudsmanwhilerejectingtheappeal,has
committedillegality.

ItneedstoreferhereinthattheSectionElectricityActenactedin
thebackdropofdismalperformanceofvariousStateElectricity
Boardsandalarmingdeclineintheavailabilityofpowernecessary
fordomestic,agricultural,andindustrialsectors.Beforethe
enactmentoftheSectionElectricityAct,theelectricitysupplyindustrywas
governedbytheSectionElectricityAct,1910;theSectionElectricity(Supply)Act,
1948andtheSectionElectricityRegulatoryCommissionsAct,1998.SectionThe
Electricity(Supply)Act,1948mandatedthecreationofthe
ElectricityBoardforeveryState.TheStateElectricityBoardshad
theresponsibilityofarrangingthesupplyofElectricityintheState.

Overaperiodoftime,theperformanceofStateElectricity
Boardsdeterioratedonaccountofvariousfactorsincludingtheir
inabilitytotakedecisionsontariffsinaprofessionaland
independentmanner.SectionTheElectricityAct,containstheprovisionof
Section126formakingapproval,professionalandfinalassessment
againstwhichanappealistobefiledunderSection127.The
alternativemodebywayofconstitutingaforumforadjudicating
thedisputearisingoutofelectricitybillhasbeenmadeoutbyway
ofconstitutingtheConsumerGrievanceRedressalForum.The
SupplyCodehasbeenformulatedinviewofthepowerconferred
underSection181oftheElectricityAct,2003underwhicha
provisionhasbeenmadeasClause14containingthereinthe
provisiontofileanappealbythepartywhoisaggrievedwiththe
orderpassedbytheForumwhereintheperiodoflimitationhas
beenprovidedwhichistobefiledwithinthemaximumperiodof
60days.

ThebriefanalysisoftheschemeoftheSectionElectricityAct
5

showsthatitisaself-containedcomprehensivelegislation,which
notonlyregulatesgeneration,transmissionanddistributionof
electricitybypublicbodiesandencouragespublicsector
participationintheprocessbutalsoensurescreationofspecial
adjudicatorymechanismtodealwiththegrievanceofanyperson
aggrievedbyanordermadebyanadjudicatingofficerunderthe
Act,exceptunderSection127oranordermadebyappropriate
commission.

ItisthusevidentthattheSectionElectricityAct,isaspecial
legislationinthelightofthisthequestionoflimitationasto
whetheritcanbecondonedforwhichthisCourtfoundwhilegoing
acrosspertainingthesameissueinSectionSalesTaxAct,inthecaseof
Commissioner,ofSalesTax,UttarPradesh,Lucknow,Vrs.
M/s.ParsonToolsandPlants,Kanpur,reportedinAIR1975
SC1039,whereinatParagraph-17and18ithasbeenlaiddown,
keepingthenatureofSectionSalesTaxAct,whichisaspecialstatutehas
beenpleasetolaiddownhereunderatParagraph79and80the
Hon’bleApexCourt,therefore,consideringtheobject,thescheme
andlanguageofSection10oftheSalesTaxActwhichdonot
permittheinvocationofSection14(2)oftheLimitationAct,either,
interms,or,inprinciple,forexcludingthetimespentinprosecuting
proceedingsforsettingasidethedismissalofappealsindefault,
fromnon-computationoftheperiodoflimitationprescribedfor
filingarevisionundertheSectionSales-TaxAct.

SimilarlyinacasepertainingtoSectionCentralExciseAct,1944
whileconsideringthecaseofCommissionerofCustomsand
CentralExciseVrs.HongoIndiaPrivateLimitedAnr.
reportedin(2009)5SCC791,whereintheHon’bleApexCourt
aftertakingnoteoftheperiodoflimitationasprovidedunder
Section35thereofwhichprovides60days’timeandinadditionto
thesame,theCommissionerhaspowertocondonethedelayup
to30days,ifsufficientcauseisshown.Likewise,Section35-B
provides90days’timeforfilingappealtotheAppellateTribunal
andsubsection(5)thereinenablestheappellateTribunalto
condonethedelayirrespectiveofthenumbersofthedays,if
sufficientcauseisshown.LikewiseSection36(EE)whichprovides
90days’timeforfilingrevisionbyCentralGovernmentand,proviso
6

tothesameenablestherevisionalauthoritytocondonethedelay
forafurtherperiodof90days,ifsufficientcauseisshown,whereas
inthecaseofappealtotheHighCourtunderSection35-Gand
referencetotheHighCourtunderSection35-HoftheAct,total
periodof180dayshasbeenprovidedforavailingtheremedyof
appealandthereference.

IntheaforesaidjudgmentatParagraph-32ithasbeen
laiddownbyconsideringthestipulationmadeunderSections35,
Section35-B,Section35-EE,Section35-GandSection35-Hwherefromitisevidentthatanappeal
andreferencetotheHighCourtshouldbemadewithin180days
onlyfromthedateofcommunicationofthedecisionororderin
thatpretextithasbeenheldwhichreadshereunderas:-

“32.Aspointedoutearlier,thelanguageusedinSections
35,35-B,35-EE,35-Gand35-Hmakesthepositionclear
thatanappealandreferencetotheHighCourtshouldbe
madewithin180daysonlyfromthedateofcommunication
ofthedecisionororder.Inotherwords,thelanguageused
inotherprovisionsmakesthepositionclearthatthe
legislatureintendedtheappellateauthoritytoentertainthe
appealbycondoningthedelayonlyupto30daysafter
expiryof60dayswhichisthepreliminarylimitationperiod
forpreferringanappeal.Intheabsenceofanyclause
condoningthedelaybyshowingsufficientcauseafterthe
prescribedperiod,thereiscompleteexclusionofSection5
oftheLimitationAct.TheHighCourtwas,therefore,
justifiedinholdingthattherewasnopowertocondonethe
delayafterexpiryoftheprescribedperiodof180days.”

ThequestionofprovisionofSection29(2)ofthe
LimitationAct,hasalsobeenansweredinthesaidjudgment
whereinatParagraph-35ithasbeenheldthatevenstipulation
madeintheprovisionofSection29(2)oftheLimitationAct,which
containstheword”expresslyexcluded”wouldalsonotbe
applicableinviewofexpressprovisionoftheSectionCentralExciseAct,
forreadyreferencetheParagraph-35isbeingreferredhereunder
as:-

“35.Itwascontendedbeforeusthatthewords”expressly
excluded”wouldmeanthattheremustbeanexpress
7

referencemadeinthespecialorlocallawtothespecific
provisionsoftheSectionLimitationActofwhichtheoperationis
tobeexcluded.Inthisregard,wehavetoseethescheme
ofthespeciallawwhichhereinthiscaseistheSectionCentral
ExciseAct.Thenatureoftheremedyprovidedthereinis
suchthatthelegislatureintendedittobeacompletecode
byitselfwhichaloneshouldgoverntheseveralmatters
providedbyit.If,onanexaminationoftherelevant
provisions,itisclearthattheprovisionsoftheSectionLimitation
Actarenecessarilyexcluded,thenthebenefitsconferred
thereincannotbecalledinaidtosupplementthe
provisionsoftheAct,inourconsideredview,thatevenin
acasewherethespeciallawdoesnotexcludethe
provisionsofSections4toSection24oftheLimitationActbyan
expressreference,itwouldnonethelessbeopentothe
courttoexaminewhetherandtowhatextent,thenature
ofthoseprovisionsorthenatureofthesubject-matterand
schemeofthespeciallawexcludetheiroperation.Inother
words,theapplicabilityoftheprovisionsoftheSectionLimitation
Act,therefore,istobejudgednotfromthetermsofthe
SectionLimitationActbutbytheprovisionsoftheSectionCentralExcise
ActrelatingtofilingofreferenceapplicationtotheHigh
Court.”

TheissuepertainingtotheSectionElectricityAct,2003wherein
alsojudgmentrenderedbytheHon’bleApexCourtinthecaseof
ChhattisgarhStateElectricityBoardVrs.CentralElectricity
RegulatoryCommissionOrs.reportedin(2010)5SCC23,
theHon’bleApexCourtafterdealingwiththeintent,objectand
thepurposeoftheSectionElectricityAct,hasbeenpleasedtolaiddown
thereinbyconsideringtheprovisionofSection125oftheElectricity
Act,thatanypersonaggrievedbyanydecisionororderofthe
AppellateTribunal,mayfileanappealtotheSupremeCourtwithin
30daysfromthedateofcommunicationofthedecisionororder
oftheAppellateTribunal.ProvisotoSection125empowerstothis
Courtentertaininganappealfiledwithinafurtherperiodof60
days,ifitissatisfiedthattherewassufficientcausefornotfiling
appealwithintheinitialperiodof60days.

TheaforesaidSectionshowsthattheperiodoflimitation
8

prescribedforfilinganappealunderSection111(2)andSection125,it
substantiallyisdifferentfromtheperiodprescribedunderthe
SectionLimitationAct.

Theuseofexpression”withinafurtherperiodofnot
exceeding60days”inprovisotoSection125makesitclearthat
theouterlimitforfilinganappealis120days.Thereisnoprovision
intheActunderwhichthisCourtcanentertainanappealfiled
againstthedecisionororderoftheTribunalaftermorethan120
days.

Itisfurtherlaiddownthereinregardingtheapplicability
ofSection29(2)oftheLimitationAct,whichlaysdownthatwhere
anyspecialorlocallawprescribedforanysuit,appealor
applicationaperiodoflimitationdifferentfromtheperiod
prescribedbytheschedule,theprovisionofSection3shallapply
asifsuchperiodweretheperiodprescribedbytheschedule,and
provisionscontainedinSections4toSection24(inclusive)shallapplyfor
thepurposeofdetermininganyperiodoflimitationprescribedfor
anysuit,appealorapplicationunlesstheyarenotexpressly
excludedbythespecialorlocallaw.

TheHon’bleApexCourtintheaforesaidjudgmentat
Paragraph-32hasbeenpleasedtolaydownthatSection5ofthe
LimitationAct,cannotbeinvokedbythisCourtforentertainingan
appealfiledagainstthedecisionororderoftheTribunalbeyond
theperiodof120daysspecifiedinSection125oftheElectricity
Actanditsproviso.AnyinterpretationofSection125ofthe
ElectricityActwhichmayattracttheapplicabilityofSection5ofthe
LimitationActreadwithSection29(2)thereofwilldefeattheobject
ofthelegislation,namely,toprovidespeciallimitationforfilingan
appealagainstthedecisionororderoftheTribunalandprovisoto
Section125willbecomenugatory.

10.Inthelightoftheabovepropositionoflawthattheprovisionof
Clause14oftheSupplyCodehasbeenappreciatedbythisCourt
whereinithasbeenprovidedthatthelicenseeoranyconsumer
aggrievedbyanordermadebytheForumhemaypreferanappeal
againstsuchordertotheElectricityOmbudsmanwithinaperiodof
30daysfromthedateofreceiptofcopyoftheorder,insuchforum
andmannerasmaybelaiddownintheseregulations.

9

ProvidedfurtherthattheElectricityOmbudsmanmay
entertainanappealaftertheexpiryofthesaidperiodofthirty
daysifsufficientcauseisshownfornotfilingtheappealwithin
thatperiod;butnotexceedingamaximumperiodof60daysfrom
thedateofreceiptoftheorder.

ProvidedfurtherthattheElectricityOmbudsmanshall
entertainnoappealbyanyconsumer,whoisrequiredtopayany
amountintermsofanorderoftheForum,unlesstheconsumer
hasdepositedintheprescribedmanner,atleastfiftypercentof
thatamount.

ProvidedfurtherthattheElectricityOmbudsmanshall
entertainnoappealbyanyLicensee,whoisrequiredtopayany
amountintermsofanorderoftheForumtotheConsumer,unless
theLicenseehasrefundedintheprescribedintheprescribed
manner,atleastfiftypercentoftheamount.

11.TheOmbudsmancanentertaintheappealbutnotexceedingthe
periodof60daysfromthedateofreceiptoftheorderand
thereforethepropositionaslaiddownbytheHon’bleApexCourt
whiledealingwiththematterpertainingtoSectionSalesTaxActorthe
SectionCentralExciseAct,ortheSectionElectricityAct,asreferredinthe
judgmentaforesaid.

12.Theombudsmanwhilepassinganorderimpugnedbyrejectingthe
appealcannotsaidtohavecommittedanyillegalityandtherefore,
itistheconsideredviewofthisCourtthatthewritpetitionbywhich
awritofcertiorarihasbeendirectedtobeissuedforpassingthe
orderinexerciseofpowerconferredunderSectionArticle226ofthe
ConstitutionofIndiadoesnotwarrantanyinterferenceinthe
impugnedordersincethereisnoinfirmity/perversityorany
jurisdictionalerror.

13.Inviewthereof,thewritpetitionfailsandisdismissed.

(SfujitNarayanPrasad,J.)
Madhav

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