HYDERABAD: A divisional chamber of the Sindh High Court, Hyderabad County, has blocked the National Electric Power Regulatory Authority (Nepra) and the Hyderabad Electric Supply Company (Hesco) from taking coercive action against a textile factory to collect disputed invoice amounts.
The jury, composed of Justices Mahmood A. Khan and Justices Adnan ul Karim Memon, recently passed the order following a petition filed by management of a textile mill who had challenged fixed fees charged by Hesco.
The petitioner had named the Department of Energy (Power Division), the Chair of the Water and Power Development Authority (Wapda), the Registrar of Nepra and the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Hesco as defendants.
The petitioner mill was represented by lawyer Ghulam Mohiuddin Qureshi.
The petitioner’s lawyer informed the court that his client’s industrial power connection was installed on 11 April 1995 and that the mill had not been in operation since 2017. Hesco used to send out invoices with fixed electricity prices for zero consumption every month. He explained that on July 22, 2022, Nepra arbitrarily issued a notice stating that the amount of fixed fees in the July 2022 bill had been increased tenfold. He pointed out that the petitioner paid the monthly bills regularly. He submitted that Hesco’s billing mechanism is based on monthly consumption, which is duly recorded by the electricity meter. He indicated that the mill had been closed since 2017 and therefore the petitioner had been billed for fixed fees based on zero consumption, which had also been paid by the petitioner. To date, not a single cent is outstanding against the petitioner, he added.
The attorney explained that on July 22, Nepra issued a contested notice and revised the amount of the fixed fees tenfold. He said the petitioner reached out to the defendants to understand the method used to increase the fixed zero consumption charges without prior notice to the petitioner.
The petitioner requested the deduction of increased amounts, but the defendants insisted on payment, arguing that the increase was supported by the Nepra Act and other relevant laws and regulations, the attorney explained. The attorney prayed that Hesco’s act would be declared illegal and that the July 22 Nepra report would be overturned.
He requested the court to prohibit the defendants from claiming back increased energy/fixed fees.
The Bank issued notices to the Defendants preventing them from taking enforcement action against the Claimant Mill in respect of their outstanding increased amount, subject to the Claimant’s periodic payments previously paid for which a new invoice will be issued by the Defendants.
The court adjourned the matter to December 20.
Published in Dawn, November 27, 2022