Legal Solution for Frequent Power Cuts
Can i approach Consumer Court for unscheduled frequent power cut or deficiency in service regarding electricity bills? Is there any judgment on this issue?
Section 2(1)(g) of the Consumer Protection Act, 1986 defines “deficiency in service” to mean any fault, imperfection, shortcoming or inadequacy in the quality, nature and manner of performance of any service or work by a person or company, which is so required under existing contractual or legal obligations.
Indian Medical Association vs V.P. Shantha, 1996 AIR 550, the court defined “deficiency in service” to mean- a case of obvious and grave negligence and not simply an error of judgment. In the case of M/S Interglobe Aviation Ltd vs N.Satchidanand, defined “deficiency in service” to mean failure to provide the required minimum facilitation in accordance with existing statutory requirements or contractual obligations or recognized conventions .
In this case, not notifying consumers regularly and repeatedly about frequent power cuts violates existing recognized convention as in the recent past; the Delhi government fined three major companies for violating this convention repeatedly. Thus, it is a case of obvious negligence as well- as the company repeatedly failed to inform consumers about frequent power cuts.
I believe that you can successfully file a consumer complaint against them.
The following is the procedure for filing a Complaint before the District Forums. (State Forums and National Forums have their own rules, but they are essentially the same)
Although it is not essential that the Complaint should be typed, it is always better to get it typed, double spaced, with at least 1½ inches of margin space on the left, top and bottom.
The Complaint has to be arranged in the following Order and you have to page number all documents.
1. Index giving the page number(s) of each document.
2. Application for condonation of delay (if there is delay), giving the reasons for the delay, duly affirmed before a notary public.
3. Complaint – containing details of the grievance, preferably arranged in chronological order; briefly giving the ground on which relief is claimed, and the relief (including legal costs, damages and interest) claimed. The Complaint has to be signed by the Complainant.
4. You can appear before the Consumer Forums in person, or allow a close relative to appear for you. But if you are engaging an advocate to appear on your behalf, you have to enclose a Vakalatnama, But then, your advocate will be doing all the paper work and attending the hearings. If you are authorizing, your close relative to appear for you, you have to enclose a letter of authority.
5. Affidavit that the contents of the Complaint are true.
6. Copies of all documents on which you rely upon in support of your Complaint.
No of copies of the Complaint to be filed
You have to submit:
1 Original and 2 xerox copies. In addition, if the Complaint is admitted, you will have to submit as many more copies as there are parties.
Where to file your Complaint:
The jurisdiction, that is the Consumer Forum, where you should file your Complaint depends on the amount involved.
I am summarizing the provisions below:
Amount Involved Jurisdiction
upto Rs. 20 lakhs District Consumer Forum
Rs. 20 lakhs to Rs. 1 crore State Consumer Forum
More than Rs. 1 crore National Consumer Forum
The fee, which is nominal, depends upon the amount involved. It is as follows:
Before District Forum:
For claims up to Rs. 1 lakh = Rs. 100
For claims from Rs.1 lakh to Rs. 5 lakhs = Rs. 200 For claims from Rs.5 lakh to Rs. 10 lakhs = Rs. 400 For claims from Rs.10 lakh to Rs. 20 lakhs = Rs. 500
Before State Commission: For claims from Rs.20 lakh to Rs. 50 lakhs = Rs. 2000 For claims from Rs.50 lakh to Rs. 1Crore = Rs. 4000
Before National Commission
For claims exceeding Rs. 1crore = Rs. 5000
The fee has to be paid in the form of a demand draft on a nationalized bank in favour of the President of the concerned District Consumer Forum (Registrar of the State or National Commission if the Complaint is filed in these places).
There is no prescribed format for the affidavit.
In practice, you can get the affirmation done (or affidavit affirmed) before any notary public, but he will usually charge anything between Rs. 100 to Rs. 200; or you can affirm before the Registrar of the concerned Forum.