The High Court yesterday directed electricity supply authorities to cancel inflated bills prepared between February and June this year, and prepare customised bills based on actual meter-reading for each consumer.
In response to a writ petition, the HC also ordered authorities not to collect late payment surcharge from consumers against the inflated bills, and submit separate reports to the court after complying with the directives in two months.
Chairperson of Power Development Board and Rural Electrification Board; and managing directors of Dhaka Power Development Company, Dhaka Electricity Supply Company, West Zone Power Distribution Company Ltd and Northern Electricity Supply Company were asked to prepare the customised bills, as per a directive issued by Bangladesh Energy Regulatory Commission (BERC) on July 16 this year.
The HC also issued a rule asking authorities concerned of the government to explain as to why the inaction of BERC chairperson in taking punitive action against the six electricity supply organisations for violating the BERC order should not be declared illegal.
In the rule, the court also asked authorities to show causes as to why they should not be directed to take punitive action against the organisations under the Bangladesh Energy Regulatory Commission Act, 2003, for violating the directive.
The HC bench of Justice Md Mozibur Rahman Miah and Justice Mohi Uddin Shamim came up with the order and rule, after virtually hearing a writ petition recently filed by Consumer Association of Bangladesh (CAB), seeking necessary directives.
During the hearing yesterday, petitioner’s counsel Jyotirmoy Barua told the HC that the electricity supply authorities prepared inflated bills for moths between February and June this year, in violation of the law and BERC directives, but no punitive action was taken.
Deputy Attorney General Nawroz MR Chowdhury represented the state during the hearing.
In August, CAB served a legal notice on the authorities, asking them to stop the collection of inflated electricity bills from consumers and take appropriate action against officials and staff responsible for the bills.
In the legal notice, CAB also requested them to prepare correct electricity bills by examining meter readings, not take extra money, delay fees from consumers, and publish how many inflated bills were prepared and how much extra was collected from consumers.