“Tangedco must understand that its attitude will kill the industries and closing down of industries will ultimately have a financial implication on it also. And Tangedco was virtually killing the goose that was laying the golden eggs,” said Justice N Anand Venkatesh allowing a batch of writ petitions from the South India Spinners Association in Coimbatore and 19 others challenging the levy of maximum demand.
He said “Tangedco cannot be allowed to collect the maximum demand charges by completely disregarding Regulation 6(b) of the Supply Code, only on the ground that Tangedco will incur loss. This claim made by Tangedco has no legs to stand and it can never be a ground to deny the right available to a consumer to pay minimum charges.”
Pointing out that the HT consumers were actually caught between the devil and deep sea, the Judge said, “On the one hand the government asked them to shut down their establishments and on the other hand Tangedco was levying the maximum demand. The financial crunch that is being faced by almost all industries due to the lockdown and the huge challenge they are going to face post the pandemic is now made worse by Tangedco by levying the maximum demand charges.”
Following this, Justice Anand Venkatesh directed Tangedco to issue a revised bill to the petitioners by applying Regulation 6(b) of the Supply Code for the entire period when the establishment was shut down.
If it has already recovered the entire dues from any of the petitioners, the bill shall be reworked and the excess amount shall be adjusted towards future bills.
He also held that Tangedco shall not levy compensation charges towards low PF from the petitioners during the period of lockdown and even if such levy is made in future, a show cause notice shall be issued to the consumer before levying any compensation as per tariff regulation.
Justice Anand Venkatesh also made it clear that these directions will apply only for the period during which the establishment was under total lockdown due to government orders and that it pertains only to the minimum charges payable as per the Supply Code and there is no exemption or concession for charges payable for the actual consumption of electricity.