CUTTACK: Delivering a judgement after 20 long years, the State Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission (SCDRC) has directed Tata Power Central Odisha Distribution Limited (TPCODL), which is presently in-charge of power supply in the central districts, to pay Rs 3 lakh to the Consumer Legal Aid Fund for a prolonged electricity outage in the region way back in 2003.
“Since a number of consumers have suffered, it is impossible to pay compensation to each consumer. Therefore, the compensation can be awarded to the consumer legal aid for the protection of interest of consumers. The compensation amount will be utilised for providing legal aid to the consumers, who are victims of such distressed conditions,” the Commission explained.
The apex consumer forum, however, also directed payment of Rs 1 lakh compensation and Rs 50,000 towards litigation cost to the complainant Girija Prasad Tripathy of Cuttack city. Tripathy had filed the complaint on behalf of all the consumers of Cuttack, Khurda, Nayagarh and Puri districts seeking compensation as electricity supply was not restored in these areas from June 2 till June 6, 2003. The power disruption was caused after a storm and heavy rains damaged the power grid, which was not restored with urgency. Advocate Kanhayalal Sharma argued the complainant’s behalf.
While delivering the judgment, a three-member bench of SCDRC headed by President Justice DP Choudhury held, “The storm or whirlwind may be act of God but the damages caused to the electric supply and non-restoration of normal power supply is deficiency in service to consumers.”
“We are of the view that the complainant has successfully proved his case for deficiency in service on the part of CESCO (the then power distribution company) for not restoring the electricity for 96 hours,” the bench accordingly, adding, “In that case CESCO is liable to pay compensation for deficiency in service.”
Even as the petition was filed against the then CESCO, TPCODL was made a party to the case after it took over the distribution charges. The discom also had submitted required affidavits to fight the case.
The bench further observed, “It appears that from 2003 onwards the complainant has been proceeding with the case. Right or wrong the delay has occurred. So, the complainant is entitled to compensation and litigation cost.” The commission said the compensation amount should be paid within 45 days failing which a 12 pc per annum will be imposed.