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Draft of Electricity Bill 2000 Part - 8

DISPUTE RESOLUTION

Conciliation and Arbitration

Conciliation

121. No Authorised Person shall move any court, tribunal, Competent Commission or other forum for resolution of any dispute, difference or disagreement relating to any matter arising out of the provisions of this Act (the "dispute"), until he has made an attempt for conciliation in accordance with such Rules as the Union Government may prescribe.

Arbitration

122. (1) Where any dispute between Authorised Person remains unresolved after an attempt for conciliation has been made under section 116, the affected person may refer such dispute to the Competent Commission for arbitration.

(2) (a) The Competent Commission shall, if the dispute relates to a matter of policy involving public interest, or an interpretation of the provisions of this Act, or rules or Regulations framed thereunder or a matter widely affecting the rights or liabilities of consumers or Authorised Person, nominate from amongst its own members such person or persons as it deems proper, to act as arbitrators.

(b) Where three or more members have been nominated as arbitrators, the Chairperson of the Commission shall act as the presiding arbitrator.

(c) Where Benches are constituted, the Chairperson may, from time to time, by notification, made provisions as to the distribution of the business of the Commission amongst the Benches and also provide for the matters which may be dealt with by each Bench.

(3) Where the Competent Commission does not nominate its Members under sub-section (2), it shall constitute an arbitral tribunal, in accordance with the Regulations made by it, to resolve the dispute.

(4) Arbitration under this section shall be governed by the Arbitration and Conciliation Act, 1996 (26 of 1996) and rules framed thereunder.

Provided that the Competent Commission may be Regulations specify the number of arbitrators, the place of sitting of the arbitral tribunal, the reasonable period during which the award may be made, the fee payable for arbitration and such other matters which are not provided in, or which have been left to the mutual agreement of the parties to the dispute, by the Arbitration and Conciliation Act, 1996 (26 of 1996) or rules framed thereunder.

(5) The arbitrators appointed under this section shall be entitled to such fees as may be specified. Provided that the fee received by Members of the Commission shall be paid into the Consolidated Fund of India or the State, as the case may be.

(6) Notwithstanding anything to the contrary contained in the Arbitration and Conciliation Act, 1996 (26 of 1996) the award made under this section may be challenged only before the High Court having jurisdiction.

Consumer Disputes

Resolution of disputes between Authorised Person and consumer

123. (1) Subject to the provisions of section 125, any dispute or difference arising between an Area Distributor and a person requiring a supply of electricity -

(a) may be referred to the State Commission by either party; and

(b) on such a reference, shall be determined by order made either by he State Commission or, if it thinks fit, by an arbitrator appointed by it under the provisions of the Arbitration and Conciliation Act, 1996 (26 of 1996) or where the dispute involves a sum not exceeding fifty thousand rupees or such higher amount as the State Government may notify, by a Consumer Protection Officer.

(2) Where any dispute arising under sections 56 to 62 between an Area Distributor and a person requiring a supply of electricity to continue to be given is to be determined under this section, the State Commission or the Consumer Protection Officer, as the case may be, may give directions as to the circumstances in which, and the terms on which, the supplier is to continue to give the supply pending the determination of the dispute.

(3) Where any dispute arising under sub-section (1) of section 22 is to be determined under this section, the State Commission or the Consumer Protection Officer, as the case may be, may give directions as to the security (if any) to be given pending the determination of the dispute.

(4) An order under this section -

(a) may include such incidental, supplemental and consequential provision (including provision requiring either party to pay a sum in respect of the costs or expenses incurred by the person making the order) as that person considers appropriate; and

(b) shall be final and enforceable as if it were an order passed by the State Commission under the provisions of this Act.

(5) In including in an order under this section any such provision as to costs or expenses as is mentioned in sub-section (4) above, the person making the order shall have regard to the conduct and means of the parties and any other relevant circumstances.

Investigation of certain other matters

124. (1) It shall be the duty of every Consumer Protection Officer to investigate any matter which appears to him to be a relevant matter and which -

(a) is the subject of a representation (other than one appearing to him to be frivolous) made to him by or on behalf of a consumer appearing to him to have an interest in that matter; or

(b) is referred to him by the Competent Commission under sub-section (2) below.

(2) Subject to sub-section (3) below, it shall be the duty of the Competent Commission to refer to a Consumer Protection Officer any matter which -

(a) appears to the Commission to be a relevant matter; and

(b) is the subject of a representation (other than one appearing to the Commission to be frivolous) made to the Commission by or on behalf of a consumer appearing to the Commission to have an interest in that matter.

(3) Nothing in sub-section (2) above shall require the Competent Commission to refer to a Consumer Protection Officer any matter in respect of which it is already considering exercising functions under this

Act.

(4) Where on an investigation under sub-section (1) above, any matter appears to a Consumer Protection officer to be a matter in respect of which it would be appropriate for the Competent Commission to exercise any functions under this Act, he shall refer that matter to the Commission with a view to its exercising those functions with respect to that matter.

(5) In this section "relevant matter", in relation to a Consumer Protection Officer means any matter -

(a) in respect of which any functions of the Commission under this Act are or may be exercisable; and

(b) which relates to an Area Distributor allocated to the Consumer Protection Officer or to any other person authorised to supply electricity in the area allocated to such officer.

Consumer Protection Officers

125. (1) The State Government shall appoint qualified and impartial persons to be Consumer Protection Officers under this Act.

(2) The number of Consumer Protection Officers, their qualifications, manner of selection, term of office, salaries and allowances, area of jurisdiction, nature of disputes and other incidental matters shall be such as may be prescribed y the State Government.

(3) The State Government shall prescribe the manner in which an application may be made before a Consumer Protection Officer, fees payable on such application, issues of notices and summons, furnishing copies of orders and documents, forms to be used and registers to be maintained and similar matters related to the proceedings before the Consumer Protection Officer.

(4) For the purposes of this section, the Consumer Protection Officer shall have the same powers as are vested in a civil court under Code of Civil Procedure, 1908 (5 of 1908) while trying a suit, in respect of the following matters namely;

(a) the summoning and enforcing the attendance of any defendant or witness and examining the witness on oath;

(b) the discovery and production of any document or the material object predicable as evidence;

(c) the reception of evidence on affidavit; and

(d) the requisitioning of a report from the concerned expert or from any other relevant source.

(6) An appeal against an order passed by the Consumer Protection Officer may be filed before the Competent Commission within a period of thirty days from the date of order provided that the period required for obtaining the copy of the order shall be excluded from this period.

(7) The decision of the Consumer Protection Officer unless modified by the Competent Commission in case of appeal, if any, shall be final and binding on the parties to the dispute and shall be enforced as if it were an order passed by the Competent Commission under this Act.

Appeals

Appeals against the orders of the Commission

126. (1) Any person aggrieved by an order passed or direction issued by the Commission under the provisions of this Act may, within 60 days of the communication of such order or direction to him, file an appeal before the High Court.

Provided that the High Court, if it is satisfied that the appellant was prevented by sufficient cause firm filing the appeal within the said period, may allow it o b filed within a further period of 60 days.

(2) An appeal filed before the High Court under sub-section (1) shall be heard and decided by a division bench of such High Court.

 


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