HC relief for Osho ashram on power bills

Written By Unknown on Selasa, 19 Maret 2013 | 22.23

MUMBAI: Osho International Foundation's resort at Pune's Koregaon Park will now pay low power bills. The HC has upheld the foundation's stand that it was entitled to lower non-commercial tariff under the "public services" consumer category.

The foundation recently challenged the MERC decision to classify it as a commercial consumer. Last year, the state carved out a new category of consumers under "public services" who, unlike commercial users,

would not attract steep tariff.

The foundation, through advocate S R Nargolkar, petitioned against "huge'' bills it had been receiving "despite being eligible for non-commercial rates as an educational organization under the new classification".

The HC noted that the state commission had pursuant to a 2011 order of the appellate tribunal created a special HT-IX public services category for electricity consumers. But while the order stipulated that the "the state commission may classify the hospitals, educational institutions and spiritual organisations which are service oriented and put then in a separate category for purpose of determing the tariff,'' the state commission had not included "service oriented spiritual organisations' from the definition it sent out last year.

The foundation said it was a spiritual organization and hence the bench of Chief Justice Mohit Shah and Justice Anoop Mohta told MERC to amend the definition and include "service-oriented spiritual organizations" under the HT-IX category for public services. The HC also directed that the definition must be amended with effect from August 2012 when the new category was created

. - Swati DeshpandeHence Osho Foundation and its sister organization will be given benefit of the reduced power tariff under the new category from August 2012.

Kiran Gandhi of Little & Co appearing for MERC said a consumer was expected to first approach a grievance cell which is required to be constituted under the Electricity Act of 2003. He had said the Foundation's plea was not maintainable.

The HC order said MERC's "preliminary contention cannot be upheld". "The forum for redressal can only redress a grievance in

accordance with the category specified by the State Commission and cannot direct the State Commission to amend the definition of "public services", which is a newly created category."

The lower tariff relief would now save the commune spread on a 28-acre campus about Rs 60 lakh a year in power bills, said a lawyer.

Last year following the state had created a separate category for consumers.

It was called "HT IX - Public Services" and was applicable "to Education Institutes, Hospitals, Dispensaries, Primary Health Care Centers, Pathology Laboratories,..."

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