Bombay high court

MUMBAI: Bombay high court bench of Justices P B Varale and Milind Jadhav on Tuesday disposed of two Public Interest litigations (PIL) against excessive electricity bills received by many consumers in June by two separate orders directing that they first exhaust the remedy of approaching a grievance forum set up under law and also directed MSEDCL to hear and decide the complaints expeditiously.
On the last two occasions when the matter came up it was deferred as first the Chief Justice Dipankar Datta and later last Tuesday Justice MS Karnik recused themselves.
PIL filed by a Solapur resident M D Shaikh and the PIL filed by a Mumbai businessman Ravindra Desai were heard separately and disposed of on Tuesday after the state and Maharashtra State Electricity Distribution Company Ltd said there is a grievance mechanism in place which ought to hear the complaints first.
In Desai’s PIL argued by advocate Vishal Saxena, the court was of the view that it he should first get his complaint addressed by the grievance forum and was not inclined to treat it as a PIL at this stage.
The government lawyer Jyoti Chavan opposed the PIL saying the available remedies be exhausted first.
Counsel for Adani, Vikram Nankani and Saket Mone argued that there is a grievance redressal mechanism provided under the Act which is a complete a code in itself and that thus the PIL by Desai shouldn’t be entertained.
Advocate Deepa Chavan appearing for MSEDCL in the second PIL filed by Shaikh also argued that with grievance mechanism already existing the PIL cannot be entertained at this juncture.
For Shaikh, his counsels Kalyani Tulankar and Rajesh Inamdar made submissions for effective mechanism for redressal of the grievances.
The bench thus also directed Shaikh, in a detailed order, to finally first approach the three-tier grievance forum and directed the authorities to decide the complaint soon.
Desai’s petition pointed to a bill that was multiple times higher than earlier and he sought a reduction in bill amount and formulation of strategy. The court observed that he had filed a complaint with the grievance forum and within four days of it filed the PIL. The court directed that a proper complaint be sent by Desai to the forum by Friday.
Shaikh’s PIL sought waiver from various charges, deferment of revised tariff and stay on payment. Both had sought orders against any coercive steps for non payment.

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