Local Press co 5-point Snippet
1. Malabar Hill Citizen’s Forum had approached the Bombay High Court seeking a reduction in Priyadarshini Park’s electricity bill, but their appeal was shot down by the court recently.
2. The South Bombay park is divided into two parts, namely, a public garden and a sports club with a gym. The garden attracts lower tariff from the BEST’s electricity department since it’s a public space and categorized under ‘public lighting’. On the other hand, the sports club, is categorized by the undertaking as ‘commercial or non-residential’ and does not enjoy the benefit of lower tariffs.
3. As a result, Malabar Hill Citizen Forum approached the High Court in 2013 demanding a curtailment after the BEST demanded Rs 4 lakh in electricity bill from the sports club. The forum argued that the sports club was ‘doing the public good’ given it allowed free entry to all citizens and was functioning on a non-profit basis.
4. However, the BEST proved that the club was engaged in commercial activities because their inspection showed that only members of the forum, who paid a certain fee, were allowed in the facility. Moreover, the activities cited by the forum as ‘recreation facilities’ meant cinema halls or multiplexes.
5. At the hearing , a division bench of Justice SC Dharmadhikari and Justice SC Gupte, came out in support of the BEST stating that a premises cannot seek lower tariff if it does not qualify as a ‘residential premises.’ A court official stated, “If a gymnasium uses electricity, it is using it for running a gymnasium, irrespective of the terms of such usage, namely whether for a charge or not, and whether on a profit motive or no profit principle. It is usage clearly falling within ‘non-residential or commercial’ use. A non-residential or commercial establishment for the purposes of electricity tariff does not cease to be non-residential or commercial if it is run on a no-profit basis.”