Bombay High Court: Residential Electricity Tariff to be Levied Even if Lawyer Uses Premises as Office
A 2020 circular stated that the housing charge category would be applicable to lawyers, doctors, engineers, and chartered accountants
The Bombay High Court has upheld an order of a consumer forum, which ruled that only a residential electricity tariff can be levied on a lawyer's residence even if he uses the residential space as his office.
Observing no perversity in the consumer forum’s order in the lawyer's favor, the bench of Justice Madhav Jamdar dismissed a writ petition filed by Maharashtra State Electricity Distribution Co. Ltd (MSEDCL). The discom had challenged the order passed in September 2012, based on the 2020 commercial circular.
The Court stated, "The respondent is a professional lawyer, and the premises are situated in a residential building. The user of the premises, as per the sanctioned plan, is also residential. Therefore, there’s no illegality or perversity in the impugned order.”
The circular had stated that the residential tariff category would be applicable for electricity used at low or medium voltage in premises used by professionals like lawyers, doctors, engineers, chartered accountants, etc. in furtherance of their professional activities.
MSEDCL challenged the legality and validity of the consumer forum order, which directed MSEDCL to issue a bill to lawyer Shriniwas Shivram Odhekar in accordance with the residential tariff. The state discom argued that since the lawyer used the residential premises as his office, he should be charged with a commercial tariff.
Meanwhile, the lawyer claimed that the premises were residential as per the sanction plan, even though he ‘also’ used it as an office.
Advocates Rahul Sinha and Anjali Shahi, briefed by DSK Legal appeared for MSEDCL.
Odhekar was represented by Senior Advocate NV Bandiwadekar and Advocate Ashwin Bandiwadekar.