On August 23, a legal notice was served to concerned government offices to take punitive action against the respondents who served abnormal electricity bills to consumers
The High Court has ordered the adjustment of ghost power bills during the nationwide general holidays due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
The High Court bench of Justice Md Mozibur Rahman Miah and Justice Mohi Uddin Shamim passed the order on Monday after hearing a writ on this regard.
The court also ordered concerned authorities to submit a report, detailing the adjustment of electricity bills, within two months.
Moreover, the court issued a rule asking the government why legal action should not be taken against those who are responsible for issuing exorbitant electricity bills between February and June of 2020.
Supreme Court lawyer Barrister Jyotirmoy Barua stood for the writ petition.
Earlier on June 30, Consumer Association of Bangladesh (CAB) sent an open letter to the government demanding cancellation of the reported illegal and unauthorized bills and to issue fresh bills for each month under the Bangladesh Energy Regulatory Commission (BERC) guidelines.
It also asked to waive the late fee of the arrear electricity bills issued to consumers for consumption of electricity during the pandemic.
CAB in the letter clearly stated that the electricity bills are prepared by the distribution utilities based on the monthly meter reading and the tariff fixed by the BERC. They collect bills within a specific time and impose penalty for failing to pay the bills within the specified time.
If a consumer fails to pay the bills and penalty, then the distribution utility disconnects the line as per provisions of the law. They also provide reconnections of the electricity lines subject to clearance of all bills, the notice said.
However, during the Covid-19 pandemic, the government postponed collection of electricity bills for three months, starting from March and ending in May.
Subsequently, the distribution utilities prepared bills for the aforesaid three months without getting the meter reading and started collecting them. It was also announced that if consumers fail to pay the arrear bills within the specified period then penalty will be imposed upon them.
However, the distribution utilities have no legal authority to prepare the bills whimsically. Decisions on strategies to collect bills from different arrears – whether to collect through single transactions or step by step -- were beyond the jurisdiction of the distribution utilities, it also stated.
On August 23, a legal notice was served to concerned government offices to take punitive action against the respondents who served abnormal electricity bills to consumers.
The notice requested the chairman of the BERC to direct Bangladesh Rural Electrification Board (BREB), Dhaka Power Distribution Company Limited (DPDC), Dhaka Electric Supply Company Limited (DESCO), West Zone Power Distribution Company Limited (WZPDCL) and (Northern Electricity Supply Company Limited) NESCO to stop collecting the illegal bills, prepare new customized bills based on actual meter reading for each consumer, and refrain from charging late fines.
It also requested the BERC chairman to direct BREB, DPDC, DESCO, WZPDCL, and NESCO to publish information on their websites about the amount of consumer-wise excessive bills, which was collected or prepared by them, on the basis of the illegal and unauthorized bills.