CHENNAI: The Madras High Court on Wednesday concurred with state-owned power distributor TANGEDCO that domestic consumers were experiencing higher electricity bills as they were spending more time in their homes in view of the COVID-19 lockdown.
A division bench of Justice M M Sundresh and Justice R Hemalatha reserved its order on the PIL challenging the manner of consumption calculation adopted by the corporation for the lockdown period.
Normally, anyone who is working would spend at least six to eight hours in their office or workplace. Now, they are spending such time in their homes and this might be a reason for the increase in charges, the bench observed.
The issue pertains to a plea moved by M L Ravi alleging that the method adopted by Tamil Nadu Generation and Distribution Corporation Limited (TANGEDCO) was arbitrary and violative of the provisions of the statutes.
The petitioner submitted that the TANGEDCO has relied on the previous month bill amount to arrive at the present payable instead of considering the previous month units consumed.
This results in low tension domestic consumers having to pay 12 per cent to 50 per cent higher charges than that is permissible under the Tamil Nadu Electricity Supply Code.
Such method adopted by the corporation has affected 96 per cent of domestic consumers who have been forced to pay up to 50 per cent higher charges, he added.
Denying the allegation, Additional Advocate General P H Arvind Pandian submitted that the bills cannot be calculated as per the units consumed as no one including the petitioner and Tangedco knows the reading for the lockdown period.
"Moreover, the method followed by the corporation to calculate the charges are proper and is in compliance with the provisions of the Act. We have even got the approval from the Tamil Nadu Electricity Regulatory Commission," he added.
According to the petitioner, mode of calculation adopted by Tangedco has affected thousands of consumers using 100 to 500 units during every billing cycle who had to shell out more money but did not harm in any way the affluent, who normally consume over 500 units every billing cycle, because there wouldn't be any change in their bill amounts.