Hyderabad: The Supreme Court on Friday admitted a letter as Public Interest Litigation (PIL) challenging the Telangana Government’s decision to forcibly collect electricity bill for the lockdown period.
The letter had been written to the highest court in India by a Hyderabad-base lawyer, Khaja Aijazuddin
The letter said that the government during the lockdown period has arbitrarily and contrary to the law has directed the Power Distribution companies of the Telangana State to charge consumption for the month of March. The bills have been sent to the consumers through SMS directing them to pay on or before April 22. It also said that failing to pay the bill the electricity will be disconnected.
After the Government’s decision of collecting the monthly power consumption bill on the basis of the bill paid last year, T Sriranga Rao, Chairman of TSERC, in his order, has extended this relaxation to both the State Distribution companies. Through an interim order the order said that for the energy consumed in the month of March and billed in April, the billing will be made on the basis of power consumption of March 2019. In case of connections provided after April 1, 2019, the bills will be raised based on minimum demand.
Lawyer Khaja Aijazuddin filed a letter-based petition with Supreme Court of India, under PIL. He contended that the methodology adopted for billing and informing the same through SMS and thereafter directing to pay in online mode is highly irrational, unwarranted and violative of the Electricity Act, 2003. He added that the common man is most likely to be affected. The consumers below the poverty line are more in numbers. They do not have access to use the online mode payment.
The lawyer in his petition contended that the BPL people are starving owing to lack of livelihood means. The bills, he contended, are abnormal and contrary to the usage. They violate the constitutional provisions. The functioning of the State of Telangana is discriminatory in nature, it added.
The Supreme Court registry in its communication to the lawyer through email has confirmed that his letter based petition was placed before the competent authority and stands filed.