Many leave Lok Adalat with smiles after 'discount'

But some still prefer to go to consumer forum

A Lok Adalat held on Sunday in Saket court complex settled close to 650 cases. A day earlier at least 800 disgruntled consumers also ended their legal battle with power distribution company BSES.

Most of the cases related to electricity theft (Section 135 of the Electricity Act, 2003) and tampering with the meter (Section 138).

Some people returned happy as they got unexpected rebate, which was as high as 50 percent in many cases. City resident Mohan Lal settled his case for Rs 17,000 while his dues amounted to Rs 37,000. Another litigant Inder Pal Singh from Karam Pura was asked to pay Rs 5,500 in two equal instalments for his dues of Rs 10,200.

“Most of the cases were settled for half the amount, which is a tempting deal for erring consumers,” said Om Prakash, an advocate practising in Saket court.

People with poor financial status, especially those from slums, were showed leniency, said advocate R K Shukla. They were made to pay as less as 40 per cent of the total dues. “But those with commercial connections were treated sternly by most judges.

Poor consumers tend to evoke the court’s sympathy and are given large rebates,” said Shukla.

Some consumers who went back disappointed on the first day of the Lok Adalat returned on Sunday for a ‘fair deal’.

A Nizammuddin resident settled his case for Rs 1.5 lakh, while his dues for a commercial power connection were close to Rs 2.7 lakh. “I want a commercial connection to be converted into a domestic one, but this can’t happen until I pay my dues. So this settlement saved a lot of money,” said a consumer.

“I came on Saturday but we didn’t reach a consensus. The forum is being dominated by the discom as the judges don’t know anything about the background of the case, and things are rushed through. They ask only one question as soon as you enter — how much do you want to settle it for?” said the consumer.

Win-win situation

Another lawyer Pradeep Kumar Gandhi said the two-day forum was a win-win situation for the discom as in most of the cases, the dues were bad debts that could barely have been recovered. “Even if they get 50 per cent of the money, it is a lot of collection for them,” he said.

However, those who were allegedly billed wrongly went back, intending to slug it out in the consumer court. “I got a client who was billed almost double the normal tariff and is being asked to pay Rs 12,000 for a one-room house in Madangir, which doesn’t have a single heavy-duty electrical equipment. I suggested to her that she approach the consumer court,” said Gandhi.

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