The Apex Court, while upholding the finding of National Consumer Dispute Redressal Commission, held that a consumer complaint against power distributor is not maintainable for raising an additional bill in case of short-assessment.

In the instant case, the consumer earlier approached NCDRC against the demand of power distributor on ground of “deficiency of service.” However, the NCDRC dismissed the complaint on account that there had been no deficiency of service on part of power company and an additional bill had been raised for the purpose of recovery of “escaped assessment.”

Aggrieved by the order of NCDRC, the consumer preferred an appeal against the NCDRC’s order. The division bench of the apex court agreed to the finding of NCDRC and observed that there had been no deficiency of service as defined under the Consumer Protection Act, 2019.

The Supreme Court bench, while explaining that the raising of additional bill would not amount of deficiency of service, stated that it had been wrongly contended that the multiply factor had not been correct.

It further explained that in case licensee discovers in the course of audit that a consumer had been short-billed, then the licensee is authorized to raise a demand. As long as consumer does not dispute the correctness of claim made by the licensee, or short assessment, the former cannot be said to be entitled to claim any deficiency.

The bench concluded the order by upholding the impugned order passed by NCDRC and held that it correctly pointed that the case was of “escaped assessment” and not “deficiency of service.” Therefore, it held that the dismissal of complaint had been in order.

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