Can apartment association cut power supply to flats?

Power to flat cut for refusal to pay maintenance fee

With power connection to their flat disconnected Ramdas Shantaram has dinner by the candlelight, while his wife Veena Shantaram fasting due to Navarathri celebrations watches helplessly. (DH photo/ Govind Raj Javali)

It has been endless humiliation and candle-light dinners since 10 days for this middle-aged couple waging a lonely battle against the Maurishka Park Apartment Owners’ Association.

The couple, Shantaram Prabhu (57), and his wife Veena Shantaram, have been facing harrowing experiences after the power supply to their apartment was disconnected by the Association on October 6, for not paying Rs 26,650 (maintenance fee and sinking fund) in advance. Without power (the back-up generator facility was also disconnected), the couple have been forced to buy drinking water, food and give clothes to the laundry.

“My diabetic husband’s health has worsened and he once slipped and fell due to poor visibility inside the house. He is now forced to keep insulin vials in the neighbour’s refrigerator and his wife is forced to charge cell phones in the flats of neighbours, who are willing to face the wrath of the Association,’’ informs Veena’s relative Damodar Shenoy Padubidri. The couple’s appeals on restoring power supply made to Mescom (Mangalore Electricity Supply Company) and Commissioner of Police yielded no response so far.

While Mescom clarified that they had little control over sub-meters installed in the buildings, the Kadri police and Assistant Commissioner of Police (Central) dismissed the woman’s complaint and declared that it was civil matter.

Shenoy says the humiliations began when the couple, into freelance accounting, felt the steep maintenance fee (Rs 1.5 per sqft) and sinking fund of Rs 10,000 (to be collected every six months in advance) was unjustified.

“Each apartment owner, additionally, had paid Rs one lakh to the Society (there are 360 flats), Rs 55,000 for electricity and about Rs 17,000 for water connection. Yet no Society was formed. The money, about Rs 3.6 crore, collected from owners has not been utilised yet.

“The Association’s pending water bill is around Rs 3.6 lakh. In addition, residents have to pay for gymnasium and other facilities which was built in the area reserved for parking,’’ he said.

Apartment owners said the Association had turned a blind eye to complaints against beauty parlour, PG hostel and cleaning of garbage trucks on the apartment premises. But they had gone ahead and disconnected power supply. Association president Dayanand Rai said the Deed of Declaration (DoD) of the Maurishka Park Apartment Owners Association was registered under the Karnataka Apartments Ownership Act (KAOA).

“The Act in Karnataka is a special enactment and even Supreme Court’s orders are not binding on it. Local courts also had directed defaulters to pay first, before dismissing their cases. Under the Act, we have powers and so, disconnected electricity. When a judge, income tax commissioner and all others in the apartment had paid the building maintenance fee, is this woman above them?,’’ he said.

The High Court of Chhattisgarh in its order (N R Sharma versus Chhattisgarh State Power Distribution Company Limited) delivered in January this year had declared that access to electricity is a human right and included in right to life under Article 21 of the constitution of India.

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Can apartment association cut power supply to flats?

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